The Financing Community Health Worker Systems at Scale in Sub-Saharan Africa Workshop. Jointly convened by the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign, the Ghanaian Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS). With generous support from the Novartis Foundation, Dr. Betsee Parker, and The White Feather Foundation, in Accra Ghana from June 9-11, 2015.
The goal of the Workshop was to support South-South collaboration among African governments for MOH-led financing and resource mobilization for the deployment and scale-up of community health worker (CHW) systems in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Workshop was part of a strategic sequence of events that includes the Third International Conference on Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa this July and will culminate at the SDGs Summit in New York City.
The 3-day workshop convened 15 African countries and regional and global development experts to provide technical advice and facilitate country-specific planning in 3 thematic areas:
– Modelling CHW programs at scale for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) attainment.
– Financing scale-up of CHW systems.
– Funding mechanisms.
1mCHW Campaign aims to close the universal health coverage gap in sub-Saharan Africa. They aim to achieve this through:
– Advocating for the recognition of CHWs as a formal cadre of health workers.
– Providing technical assistance to governments seeking to enhance and scale-up nationally recognized CHW programs.
– Urging financing organizations to support CHWs and motivating countries to demand this support from donors.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are proven effective for achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in resource-constrained settings. CHWs are a relatively low-cost health intervention with recognized success in disease surveillance and prevention, vital events registration, timely provision of life-saving curative treatments, and patient referrals to health facilities. Most recently, they have played a pivotal role in helping the governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone respond to the Ebola outbreak by serving as ‘Contact Tracers’ (CTs) to quickly identify cases, facilitate immediate referral and quarantine, and monitor contacts for the 21 day incubation period of Ebola, thereby preventing further spread of the epidemic. As trusted members of the community, CHWs are instrumental in promoting health awareness, reducing stigma, and fostering treatment-seeking behaviors across disease areas.
The White Feather Foundation’s support enabled Kenya’s participation at the South-South Collaboration Workshop. Kenya was represented by:
– Dr. Salim Ali Hussein, Head of Community Health Services (CHS);
– Mr. Daniel Kavoo, Head of Midwife Services;
– Ms. Rose Njiraini of UNICEF-Kenya;
– Professor Miriam Were, Chancellor of Moi University, Goodwill Ambassador to the CHS Unit, and 1mCHW Campaign Advisory Board Member;
– Dr. Maureen Adudans, Regional Health Systems Advisor at the Columbia Global Center for East and Southern Africa (CGC-E&S);
– Ms. Mabel Wendo, Regional CHW Advisor for CGC-E&S.
The Columbia Global Center for East and Southern Africa (CGC-E&S) hosts one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) centers, which directly supports the work of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including the Sauri site in Siaya County, Kenya. The Siaya County health government has been exemplary in its efforts to scale-up and finance CHW systems, including committing to absorbing CHWs employed by the MVP into the county health system when the program transitions to the government at the end of 2015.
With a technical focus, the Workshop highlighted strategies and lessons learned from programs, policies, research, and advocacy for financing CHW programs at scale. In attendance were 70 representatives of MOHs and Ministries of Finance (MOFs) from Burkina Faso, Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, as well as partner organizations that closely support government-partner collaboration in implementing community health programs in those countries. In total, 147 stakeholders from all levels of government and national and international non- governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in the workshop. The presence of high-level MOH and MOF representatives, global technical experts, donors, and policy leaders ensured the technical ￼knowledge shared and implementation plans developed during the Workshop were comprehensive and ￼feasible within each country’s context.
The Workshop was opened by Professor Kwesi Botchwey, Professor of Practice in Development Economics, Tufts University, Chairman of National Development Planning Commission and Former Minister of Finance of the Republic of Ghana, who spoke about the importance of investing in frontline health workers to achieve UHC in the SDG era. Ghana’s Honorable Deputy Minister of Health, Victor Bampoe, also gave some remarks during the opening ceremony, where he commended the 1mCHW Campaign for its efforts to revamp Ghana’s Community based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) program in collaboration with the MOH and GHS. He also urged the participating governments to deliberate on ways to overcome the financial bottlenecks to supporting such programs across the continent.
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