Community Health Workers

Frontline health workers, including nurses, midwives and community health workers (CHWs), are vital for effective, strong primary healthcare systems that deliver for everyone, everywhere. These cadres of health workers are the first, and in some cases often the only, point of contact with the health system for millions of people. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, nurses stepped up to lead not only at testing sites but in critical care of very ill patients, and community health workers played key roles in contact tracing and testing in many countries around the world.
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At the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation, we believe that sustainable improvements in the delivery of and access to quality primary care require a long-term commitment to enabling and supporting the well-being of the deliverer of care—the frontline health worker.
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To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be the understatement of the century. So much has changed for the world community since COVID-19, and countless governments, non-governmental organizations and companies are bringing their unique capabilities and resources to bear in profound ways.
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By WHO estimates we need 18 million more frontline health workers (FLHWs) by 2030 to achieve SDG targets and other global health aspirations. An article authored by the Center for Health Worker Innovation's Joanne Peter, published on the ICTworks™ website, discusses how task shifting to virtual services is an opportunity for health systems to do more with the FLHWs they currently have.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the impact of overburdened health systems pushed to the limit and the heart of those systems – our health and other essential workers – rise to the occasion with remarkable expertise and determination despite enormous risks. But that determination clearly comes at a cost and begs the question: How can we better care for those who are caring for us?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted front line health workers into the limelight. Across the globe, healthcare leaders, advocates and the general public are joining in well-deserved outpourings of gratitude from balconies to social media. While this appreciation for all of those at the front lines of care is welcome and important, the attention received by community health workers in particular may help ensure more stakeholders throughout health systems understand this cadre’s vital role in ensuring access to quality, community-based primary health care.
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With more than 5.1 billion unique mobile subscribers on the planet, access to a mobile phone now outstrips access to essential health services. Digital technologies—and mobile phones in particular—have potential to dramatically alter how healthcare is delivered and received.
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