Training community health workers
Eighty percent of Africa's population lives in rural and remote areas where the African health worker crisis is at its worst. Consequently, AMREF has chosen to focus on training volunteer community health workers. They provide basic health care and education in areas where there is often no access to formal health care.
Community health workers are selected by their own communities. They receive basic medical training including,
- Treating mothers and babies with malaria
- Helping tuberculosis (TB) patients to take their treatment correctly
- Educating communities on HIV prevention
With this life-saving knowledge, as well as basic equipment and medicine, community health workers are able to diagnose and treat people within minutes from their home.
Training health workers closer to people’s homes reduces the time lost in travelling to the nearest health clinic, which is often hours or even days away. This means that understaffed and crowded health clinics are less congested with patients who can be treated safely in their homes.
Each year, AMREF trains more than 10,000 community health workers from villages across Africa.
While community health workers do not have the same abilities as trained doctors or nurses, they are trained to recognize and refer more complicated cases. AMREF ensures they are linked to formal health centers and hospitals. This is essential not only to ensure quality and consistency of care but also to avoid creating a two-tiered health system. To ensure their knowledge is relevant and up-to-date, AMREF also provides community health workers with regular refresher courses.
Individuals garner a great deal of respect when they are trained as a community health worker. However, AMREF also provides other incentives such as bicycles, to ensure that the the volunteers are rewarded for their efforts and remain satisfied with their roles.
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