Community Health Systems Strengthening

With a shortage of 7.2 million healthcare workers worldwide, the global health system lacks the manpower necessary to optimally treat the world’s population. This is particularly felt by communities who face long travel and poor access to formal health facilities. A strong community-level health system will increase access to care and can improve health outcomes. Community level provision of health care is often approached from a singular intervention view rather than from a holistic and systematic approach that encompasses the full range of health services and support required for successful service delivery at this level. Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) aims to identify the structures required for community-based services and support systems needed for community health workers and community members. Through APC’s community health systems strengthening work, ministries of health, NGOs, and donors may be better positioned to implement more effective and streamlined approaches to community-level service delivery.

Photo credit: Jane Silcock/USAID

Below are select resources related to key issues within community health systems strengthening.

Men’s Engagement in Family Planning

Increasingly, family planning programs understand the need to foster male partners’ active and supportive roles in planning their families. Family planning is often seen as solely a woman’s concern, and yet many women do not have the power to access and use contraception without the permission, cooperation, or support of their spouses or family members. Moreover, norms of masculinity in many areas place a high value on men’s virility and ability to father children and discourage health-seeking behaviors of men, which can be perceived as a sign of weakness.

Men’s roles in family planning may range from open communication and shared decision-making with their female partners about ideal family size and family planning methods, to financial support for accessing family planning, to men’s own uptake of vasectomy and condom use. Efforts to encourage men to become involved in planning their families can also lead to overall improvements in couples’ communication.

Becoming a Model Man
August 2016 | Video

FHI 360, in partnership with Advancing Partners & Communities, implemented Emanzi, a peer intervention program in Uganda, to teach men how to become better husbands and partners. Emanzi, which means role model in the local language, introduces the basic concepts of gender and gender norms, reflects on the injustice of violence against women, encourages positive communication among couples, and reviews the benefits of family planning and HIV testing. More than 850 men ages 18 to 45 have graduated from the program, and an evaluation is under way. Learn more about Emanzi in this presentation given at the 2016 Gender 360 Summit. 

Gender Norms of Health Care Providers

Gender norms are part of the community and affect everyone. Community health programs must recognize that everyone, including program designers and healthcare providers themselves, are socialized into certain ways of thinking and behaving as women and men, and about women and men. As a result, women and men often experience stigma and discrimination from healthcare providers. Healthcare providers should receive training in gender sensitivity to challenge their thinking about gender norms and be mindful of gender issues when interacting with clients.

Female Community Health Volunteer National Survey Report 2014
January 2016 | Report

The 2014 Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) survey provides a comprehensive assessment of the FCHV program in Nepal. The document reports the findings of a national-level quantitative survey of FCHVs and from complementary qualitative interviews with key national, district level, and community stakeholders. The results are intended to increase understanding of the current status of the FCHV program and reflect on stakeholder perceptions of program experience and performance.

Community Health Worker Motivation

In the face of global health worker shortages, the use of community health workers (CHWs) is an important health care delivery strategy for underserved populations. In Uganda, community-based programs often use volunteer CHWs to extend services, including family planning, in rural areas. This study examined factors related to CHW motivation and level of activity in three family planning programs in Uganda.

Community Health Policy Matters
May 2017 | Video

APC’s Community Health Policy Matters video tells the story of fictional characters Winnie and Mary, and how a fragmented health system affects each woman’s ability to access family planning services in her respective community. This animated video highlights how policy can improve the health system for women.

Sierra Leone National Community Health Worker Policy 2016-2020
February 2017 | Policy

Advancing Partners & Communities has provided training, technical assistance, and operational support for revising and implementing the MOHS’ CHW Policy. The policy is now a cornerstone of the Presidential Recovery Plan. 

Support to the Policy and Regulatory Framework for Improving Community Health Systems in Sierra Leone
October 2016 | Summary

Advancing Partners & Communities has been an active partner in the Community Health Workers (CHWs) policy revision process, offering ongoing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) of Sierra Leone.

Expanding global impact through Community Health Workers: progress and challenges in counting CHWs
March 2016 | Webinar

On March 2, 2016, World Vision, Frontline Health Workers Coalition & One Million CHWs Campaign hosted a webinar: Expanding global impact through Community Health Workers: progress and challenges in counting CHWs. The webinar presented key findings and discussed the relevance of the journey “from fragmentation to harmonization” for the CHW community at large.

Nepal’s Community-based Health System Model: Structure, Strategies, and Learning
January 2016 | Brief

The Community-based Health System Model briefs identify and discuss critical health system inputs and processes that have contributed to the implementation and expansion of community-based service delivery in different countries. Countries were selected for their geographic diversity, type of service delivery model, and programmatic scale-up. This brief reviews Nepal’s community health model to inform future policy, program design, and implementation in other countries.

Drug Shops

Until recently, the practice of utilizing drug shops to increase access to injectable contraceptives had not received sufficient attention in the literature. This new APC brief discusses the promising strategy. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has also developed a high-impact practice brief on family planning provision through both drug shops and pharmacies.

Delivery of Injectable Contraception by Drug Shop Operators in Uganda: Research and Recommendations
October 2016 | Brief

At the London Family Planning Summit in 2012, the Government of Uganda committed to providing universal access to family planning and reducing unmet need for family planning from the current 40 percent to 10 percent by 2022. To meet this ambitious goal, all potential means of increasing accessibility to family planning must be explored.

CHSS

Strengthening Health Services as Part of the Post-Ebola Transition in Sierra Leone: Community Engagement Implementation Toolkit
April 2017 | Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to guide the community engagement process for improved community ownership of peripheral health unit quality and catchment area health outcomes in support of the project’s Community Engagement Implementation Strategy.

Life After Ebola: Mothers Return to Health Facilities in Sierra Leone
April 2017 | Photo Gallery

After the Ebola epidemic, a community health center in Sierra Leone is now able to provide improved quality health care services, including family planning.

Post-Ebola Recovery: Strengthening Community Health Services Baseline Facility Assessment Report
April 2017 | Assessment

This baseline facility assessment was conducted to better understand the capacity and infrastructure of the health posts in the five priority districts of Sierra Leone, and to establish a benchmark against which improvements made throughout the course of APC's work can be measured.

Community Health Policy Matters
April 2017 | Video

APC’s Community Health Policy Matters video tells the story of fictional characters Winnie and Mary, and how a fragmented health system affects each woman’s ability to access family planning services in her respective community. This animated video highlights how policy can improve the health system for women.

Community Health Policy Matters

Community Health Policy Matters from Advancing Partners & Communities on Vimeo.

Community Health Systems Catalog: 2017 Updates
April 2017 | Publication

APC’s Community Health Systems Catalog documents policy guidance across 25 countries in detailed profiles and data sets.

Understanding the Challenges of Delivering Community Maternal and Child Health Services in a Post-Ebola Context
October 2016 | Infographic

Following the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone faces challenges to rebuilding its community health system. This infographic helps explain the challenges of delivering community maternal and child health services in a post-Ebola context.

Program Overview: Sierra Leone, Liberia & Guinea
October 2016 | Publication

The Ebola Transmission Prevention and Survivor Services Program (ETP & SS) launched in July 2016 and is operating under the umbrella of priorities set by USAID’s Global Health Ebola Team. The program works with ministries of health and nongovernmental organizations in regions of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea that are most affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone: Community Engagement Implementation Strategy & Toolkit
April 2016 | Strategy

Advancing Partners & Communities has drafted a community engagement strategy for adoption and use by all implementing partners in the project’s five districts. In line with the project’s goal of strengthening health services, the strategy focuses on district- and facility-level interventions and emphasizes the role of community health workers (CHWs). The strategy complements other community-based interventions.

Advancing Partners & Communities, Sierra Leone: Program Overview and Accomplishments
March 2016 | Summary

Advancing Partners & Communities received a grant from USAID’s “Ebola Response and Preparedness” funds authorized by the United States Congress to strengthen critical non-Ebola health services, in Sierra Leone. 

Strengthening Community Health Systems through CHWs and mHealth
January 2015 | Paper

This paper details new learning and next steps from CORE Group’s Fall 2014 Global Health Practitioner Conference. Participants at the conference explored the role of NGOs in strengthening health systems from a primary health care perspective that includes community systems, with a focus on supporting community health workers (CHWs).

Using Measurements of Unmet Need to Inform Program Investments for Health Service Integration
June 2014 | Journal Article

This journal article discusses how Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data could potentially inform optimal strategies to reach women having unmet need with contraceptive services through integrated service delivery. The analysis has the potential to provide program managers with an evidence-based road map indicating which service-delivery platforms offer the greatest potential to reach the largest number of women with unmet need for contraception.

Frontline Health Workers: Expanding Utilization of Family Planning
May 2014 | Fact Sheet

This fact sheet outlines the crucial role frontline health workers play in increasing contraceptive use in their communities by providing data and using several success stories to illustrate accomplishments.

PMA2014/Ethiopia
March 2014 | Infographic

This infographic is designed to show key family planning indicators and indicators for access, equity, quality, and choice for households in Ethiopia using family planning services from January to March 2014.

Community Health Workers in Low-, Middle-, and High-Income Countries: An Overview of Their History, Recent Evolution, and Current Effectiveness
March 2014 | Journal Article

This journal article discusses how over the past half-century, community health workers (CHWs) have been a growing force for extending health care and improving the health of populations. The review highlights the history of CHW programs around the world and their growing importance in achieving health for all. Note: A subscription is required to read the full article.

Ethiopia meets MDG 4 by cutting Under 5 mortality By Two-Thirds Since 1990
September 2013 | Report

This article reports on the success of meeting Millennium Development Goals with Community Health Worker programs in Ethiopia.

Factors Affecting Availability of Essential Medicines among Community Health Workers in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Rwanda: Solving the Last Mile Puzzle
November 2012 | Journal Article

This journal article focuses on the findings related to three key preconditions of the theory of change and how these were used to inform the design of the community case management supply chain improvement strategy in each country. The three key preconditions include product availability at CHW resupply points, supply chain knowledge and capacity among community health workers and their supervisors, and availability of appropriate transportation.

Below you will find links to resources created by APC and other organizations.

APC Resources

Community Health Policy Matters
May 2017 | Video

APC’s Community Health Policy Matters video tells the story of fictional characters Winnie and Mary, and how a fragmented health system affects each woman’s ability to access family planning services in her respective community. This animated video highlights how policy can improve the health system for women.

Strengthening Health Services as Part of the Post-Ebola Transition in Sierra Leone: Community Engagement Implementation Toolkit
April 2017 | Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to guide the community engagement process for improved community ownership of peripheral health unit quality and catchment area health outcomes in support of the project’s Community Engagement Implementation Strategy.

Strengthening Health Services as Part of the Post-Ebola Transition in Sierra Leone: Community Engagement Implementation Strategy
April 2017 | Strategy

The purpose of this document is to define a harmonized community engagement implementation strategy that is aligned with: a) national health guidance, strategies, and policies; and b) all implementing partners across the project’s five districts.

Life After Ebola: Mothers Return to Health Facilities in Sierra Leone
April 2017 | Photo Gallery

After the Ebola epidemic, a community health center in Sierra Leone is now able to provide improved quality health care services, including family planning.

Post-Ebola Recovery: Strengthening Community Health Services Baseline Facility Assessment Report
April 2017 | Assessment

This baseline facility assessment was conducted to better understand the capacity and infrastructure of the health posts in the five priority districts of Sierra Leone, and to establish a benchmark against which improvements made throughout the course of APC's work can be measured.

Community Health Policy Matters
April 2017 | Video

APC’s Community Health Policy Matters video tells the story of fictional characters Winnie and Mary, and how a fragmented health system affects each woman’s ability to access family planning services in her respective community. This animated video highlights how policy can improve the health system for women.

Community Health Systems Catalog: 2017 Updates
April 2017 | Publication

APC’s Community Health Systems Catalog documents policy guidance across 25 countries in detailed profiles and data sets.

Preventing Unintended and Unplanned Pregnancy among In-school Youth: An Acceptability and Feasibility Assessment
December 2016 | Assessment

To better understand the feasibility and acceptability of interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy among in-school youth, APC in Uganda conducted a formative assessment in the Lira, Amuru, Oyam, Pader, Agago, and Dokolo districts.

Understanding the Challenges of Delivering Community Maternal and Child Health Services in a Post-Ebola Context
October 2016 | Infographic

Following the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone faces challenges to rebuilding its community health system. This infographic helps explain the challenges of delivering community maternal and child health services in a post-Ebola context.

The Post-Ebola Transition: Strengthening Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Services
October 2016 | Summary

In Sierra Leone, APC works through a grant from USAID’s “Ebola Response and Preparedness” funds to support the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) implement its 2015–2020 Health Sector Recovery Plan. The project’s goal is to strengthen community-based non-Ebola health services, with emphasis on reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH).

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El Instituto Nacional de la Salud (INSALUD) is a public health organization in the Dominican Republic. It was created in 1978 as one of the Managing Bodies of the Social Security; charge of the management and administration of health services Social Security System.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a U.S.-based, non-profit organization whose members serve as advisors to the nation on issues related to science, technology, engineering, and medicine. The society is comprised of peer-elected scientists regarded for their distinguished contributions to research. NAS members actively contribute to the scientific community domestically and abroad. Over 500 NAS members have won Nobel Prices, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal is internationally recognized.

Columbia University is an American private Ivy League research university located in New York City, New York. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization that focuses its efforts on emergency relief, education, health care, gender issues, economic development, and child advocacy. World Vision partners with children and families to help them break the cycle of poverty using a community development approach.

JSI, through Advancing Partners & Communities, and the Government of Liberia are providing necessary treatment for Ebola survivors with health problems. 

May 02, 2017 | Blog

APC's Ebola Transmission Prevention and Survivor Services program is focusing on meeting the medical and psychosocial needs of Ebola survivors in Liberia.

April 10, 2017 | Announcement

Advancing Partners & Communities held a regional workshop for leadership from Ebola survivor associations from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in Conakry, Guinea from March 27th to 29th, 2017.

March 27, 2017 to March 30, 2017
| Announcement

Join APC at the Institutionalizing Community Health Conference from March 27, 2017 – March 30, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

March 08, 2017 | Blog

After the Ebola epidemic, a community health center in Sierra Leone is now able to provide improved quality health care services, including family planning.

February 06, 2017 | Press Release

On February 2, 2017, the Government of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation launched the revised Community Health Worker Policy, 2016-2020.

January 25, 2017 | Press Release

Advancing Partners & Communities launched the USAID-funded Ebola Transmission Prevention and Survivor Services program on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 in Monrovia, Liberia.

November 14, 2016 to November 18, 2016
| Announcement

Join APC at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research from November 14th - 18th, 2016.

September 23, 2016 | Announcement

Advancing Partners & Communities (APC) advances programs that improve the overall health of communities, especially family planning (FP). The project increases access to community-based family planning (CBFP) services, including Sayana Press, a progestin-only injectable contraceptive that provides three-months of coverage, similar to Depo-Provera. Sayana Press, however, it is unique in that it combines the needle and drug in a small, lightweight, easy-to-use single dose container.

September 23, 2016 | Announcement

In Zambia, APC supported authorization for the national scale-up of Community Health Workers’ (CHW) provision of injectables after years of advocacy, multi-sectoral leadership and completion of a successful pilot study. The APC grantee ChildFund’s successful project in Zambia was one of the key factors influencing the government’s decision to allow trained CHWs to provide injectable contraception. This authorization will give women, especially those in rural, hard-to-reach areas, access to a safe and reliable family planning method and help Zambia reach its goal of increasing the modern contraceptive rate to 58% by 2020.

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October 2015 | Video

This video from Measure Evaluation tells a powerful story of how a simple innovation in a paper-based patient tracking system helped improve the health of mothers, newborns, and communities.

Photo of D in a wheelchair

D is 10 years old and lives with her mother and two half-siblings in a village in Cluj County, Romania. D has carnitine deficiency and severe psychomotor impairment.

Fatmata, MCH aide

Fatmata, an MCH-aide assumed responsibility for a health post affected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, leaving behind her own community to help one with a greater need.

Sussex MCHP

One of the biggest challenges throughout the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was a lack of water and sanitation, which led to poor implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures at health facilities. In the post-Ebola context, as the country moves forward with its Health Sector Recovery Plan, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is a priority.

Bridge built by the community

Post-Ebola, a facility management committee in Sierra Leone is encouraging women to return to health facilities to give birth.

Photo of Zainab

A female community leader in Sierra Leone is able to improve water supply to her community's health facility through advocacy and community engagement. 

Mohamed

Mental health is severely underfunded and under-resourced in Sierra Leone. But these challenges have not stopped Sahr and Mohamed from helping to reduce treatment gaps.

Leah

Leah Mwakinyuke always knew she wanted to be a nurse. She worked hard to overcome barriers to achieve her dream.

Photo of Beatrice

As a peer educator with the HealthKeepers Network (HKN), Beatrice Ghartey receives training in many areas including adolescent reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, prevention of teenage pregnancy, sexual abstinence and youth friendly services.

Edson

Edson Timothy Mwakanyamale was active in volunteer and administrative economic activities for many years in the Busokelo district before the village elected him to serve as chairperson of the Community Health Fund Users Association (CHFuA) six months ago.

Photo of Fanny

Madam Fanny Stafford is the patron of the Young Peer Educators Club established by the HealthKeepers Network (HKN), a non-governmental organization based in Accra.

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