Some can at best be described as somehow literates or nearly illiterates and do not fit the traditional sketch of the medical doctor, pharmacist, nurse, X-ray technician and other technically trained experts, and yet they are the backbone of Ghana’s grassroots healthcare delivery strategy. We call them Community Health Volunteers (CHV), the new healthcare professionals you will want to meet.
Healthcare centers here are overstretched and supplies running out. Doctors are few and most live and practice in urban centers. CHVs are the new healthcare professionals filling in the void in the hard-to-reach areas of the country.
So far, my PULSE partner, Jhpiego, has trained over 600 community health volunteers in the six coastal districts of the Western Region of Ghana alone.
They are not your typical healthcare professionals. But the services they provide? Beyond measure. Jhpeigo, with assistance from PULSE volunteers, provides bimonthly training for these healthcare professionals in the detection and treatment of malaria, diarrhea, nutrition screenings and promotion, the provision of family planning, pregnancy screening, breastfeeding promotion, early detection of obstetric and neonatal complications, and environmental sanitation.
The volunteers work in remote villages and provide essential services to those that have difficulty accessing healthcare services
A Sustainable Change
The greatest thing about the model described above is that the whole approached is community-based. The nurses are posted by the Ghana Health Service but the volunteers are selected by the community leaders and trained to be major stakeholders in healthcare delivery.
I believe this is a change that is sustainable because it is a whole cultural change with its roots in the community.
It is great to see GlaxoSmithKline play a role in driving this change and our mission of enabling people everywhere to do more, feel better and live longer.