Global Health

Expediting Access to Health Care in Rural Africa

November 13, 2017  • Aspen Global Innovators Group

One billion people across the globe have no access to adequate health services. These individuals lack the basic care needed to prevent premature deaths from preventable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, or complications from childbirth. Local community health workers have proven to play an integral role in delivering essential health services to the hardest to reach communities in the world. They have helped reduce child mortality by almost one-third, and help health systems prepare to respond to health crises like Ebola.

Today, a growing number of governments have recognised the health, social and economic returns of investing in community health workers and are ambitiously trying to scale their own community health worker systems. Yet, many lack the managerial, financial and strategic proficiency needed to mobilise large work forces. That’s where Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health) comes in. AMP Health is committed to making resilient community health systems the norm in Sub-Saharan Africa. AMP Health places experienced professionals in a country’s Ministry of Health to help them accelerate their community health programs. With public and private-sector partners, AMP Health offers ongoing training, consulting, and cross-country collaborations.

Local community health workers play an integral role in delivering essential services to the hardest to reach communities in the world.

In July 2017, support from AMP Health led to the publication of the first-ever National Community Health Strategy in Malawi. Over the next 5 years, the implementation of this country-wide strategy will improve health outcomes, community ownership, and integration of health services throughout Malawi. Throughout the process, the Malawi Federal Ministry of Health engaged over 500 community members and other stakeholders for their feedback and recommendations. The strategy ambitiously plans to reduce under-5 mortality by 25%, reducing maternal mortality by 20%, and strengthening the community health system for the next generation. Along the way, the Ministry learned key lessons to help other countries develop their own national community health strategies.

The National Community Health Strategy was “developed by all to be implemented by all for the benefit of all for the next generation. There are no beneficiaries and implementers, we are all in this together.” AMP Health’s work and commitment is key to continue to support community health activities, which not only are essential to improve Malawi’s health outcomes, but also to support the country to achieve its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); in particular, SDG 3 on universal health coverage. Therefore, building a strong community health system is core to Malawi’s development agenda.

This article originally appeared at #WalkTogether.

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