The number of Community Health Workers (CHW) is bound to increase. Villages countrywide are set to elect new members over the weekend.
According to a communiqué from the Ministry of Health (MoH), the elections will see most villages elect a fourth CHW. Previously, each of the more than 14,000 villages elected three health workers.
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During the 15th national leadership retreat (Umwiherero) the work of CHW was recognised for improving health services, especially in rural areas. It was subsequently recommended that the number be increased from the current 44,511 countrywide. The concept began in 1995 with an initial 12,000 workers.
Not all villages will need a forth health workers, especially those in urban centres, officials said.
The election exercise will be conducted on Saturday immediately after the monthly communal work, Umuganda. Community Health Workers work on a voluntary basis and should be aged between 21 and 55 and should be on call anytime needed.
In most semi urban and rural communities, there have been complaints that the current number of CHW was not enough and that they were being over stretched.
Community Health Workers have been credited with improving healthcare in communities, especially rural communities with no health facilities nearby.
They substitute professional health workers by intervening in maternal and child health care by ensuring that pregnant women get antenatal care during pregnancy.
They also perform screenings for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and help treat other dangers such as malnutrition and diarrhoea, and make daily status-of-health reports to higher authorities so that the Government is kept abreast of the health status at all times.