Community health workers: The critical link to sustainable, healthy societies in low-resource settings—A model for the Baylor Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation
Community health workers (CHWs) can serve as a bridge between healthcare providers and communities to positively impact social determinants of health and, thus, the overall health of the population. The potential to effect lasting change is particularly significant within resource-poor settings with limited access to formally trained health care providers such as the small, rural village of Santa Ana Intibucá, Honduras and surrounding areas—located on the geographically and politically isolated border of Honduras and El Salvador. The Baylor Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation (BSTS) works in conjunction with Santa Ana's volunteer health committee to bring a health brigade that has provided health care and public health projects to the area at least twice a year since 2001. They have also hired a full-time Honduran physician, a Honduran in-country administrative director, and built a clinic; yet, no community health worker program exists. This CHW program model is the response to a clear need for a CHW program within the area served by BSTS and presents a CHW program model specific to Santa Ana Intibucá and surrounding areas to be implemented by BSTS. Methods used to develop this model include reviewing the literature for recommendations from leading authorities as well as successfully implemented CHW programs in comparable regions. This information was incorporated into existing knowledge and materials currently being used in the area. Using the CHW model proposed here, each brigade, in conjunction with the communities served, can help develop new modules to respond to the specific health priorities of the region at that time, incorporating consistent modes of contact with the local physician and the CHWs to provide refresher courses, training in new topics of interest, and to be reminded of the importance of community health workers' role as the critical link to healthy societies. With cooperation, effort, and support, the brigade can continue to help integrate a sustainable CHW system in which communities may be able to maximize the care they receive while also learning to care for their own health and the future of their communities.
Dave, Amanda C, "Community health workers: The critical link to sustainable, healthy societies in low-resource settings—A model for the Baylor Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1507183.