Community Health Workers play a vital role in healthcare system

Community Health Workers (CHWs) provide a promising health structure to improve the HIV programme by the prevention of HIV infection, linkage of patients to care, ART adherence support, and by identifying individuals with treatment failure.

Anova Health Institute is supporting the Department of Health in implementing the CHW programme with regards to HIV, TB, and maternal health services in the Mopani District and the City of Johannesburg. An important component of this support is a multi-faceted evaluation that determines the impact of the CHW programme on HIV services and identifies ways to improve such impact.

In light of this, Anova embarked on a household survey to determine the reach of CHWs in the rural Greater Giyani and Greater Letaba sub-districts of Mopani district in Limpopo. Research staff successfully conducted household visits to 534 households from January 2016 through August 2016. Experiences with CHWs, health education, access to care, and referrals were evaluated. Anova’s Prof Remco Peters says: “It’s important to invest in community health structure and improve service delivery through high-quality research.”

The preliminary results show that there is a good yield in provision of HIV services by CHWs although a substantial part of the population may not be at home when CHWs visit. The community were overall happy with the CHWs and satisfied with the services rendered with regards to HIV. However, there is room to improve geographic reach and operational aspects of the CHW programme.

Nireshni Naidoo, epidemiologist at Anova, says that these findings corroborate the fact that community healthcare provides an important component of the South African healthcare system, with high promise to support the usually overcrowded healthcare facilities in provision of HIV services. Anova is committed to further support the Department of Health in provision of HIV, TB, and maternal health services by the CHWs and to strengthen the impact that this structure has on improving healthcare in rural areas.

Written by Nireshni Naidoo

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