The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide a framework for the entire United Nations System to work, together with host countries, towards a common goal.
There are eight specific goals to be achieved however, three of them are related to health and they include; Reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
The Rwandan government has recognized that Community Health Workers (CHWs) are necessary in order to achieve these three goals especially in remote areas. The strategy of recruiting CHWs has improved the access of medical care in rural communities.
It was through sensitization that the local villagers availed themselves in order to improve access to healthcare especially unreachable people in remote areas. They also attained trainings especially as Traditional Birth Attendants to help in birth delivery in cases where the expecting mother cannot make it to the health center.
Cassien Havugimana, Programs Manager of Health Development Initiative (HDI), explains how the CHWs have been involved in the different health campaigns.
“Community health workers carry out immunization and vaccinations in their villages hence the programmes’ process takes a shorter period of time. The welfare of most people in remote areas has improved thanks to the CHWs,” Havugimana discloses.
“However, their work is challenging since they have a busy schedule because many people are in need of their services. With the nature of our country’s terrain, they have to walk long distances to meet their patients,” he said.
Most of them acquired cell phones so as to ease communication.
HDI usually trains these health workers most of who are volunteers. The Government additionally compensates them with performance-based financing—a move that is paying off by improving access to quality healthcare.
It’s a method which seeks to increase the volume and quality of healthcare services provided to the population.
The performance-based financing strategy increases funds available at the operational level to increase health worker motivation through a system of complementary remuneration based on performance. It operates through contracts between those providing the financing and the various local actors in the health system.
In every village, CHWs are elected by the people within the community.
Isabella Kamariza, Founder and Coordinator of Solid Africa, a non-profit organization that advocates for vulnerable patients in Rwanda’s public hospitals, said that Community Health Workers help patients in amicable ways.
“Since they are socially involved with the villager and are entrusted by the community, they closely monitor the patients. Consequently, in cases where the situation gets out of hand, a full diagnose is given based on facts surrounding the events involved,” Kamariza explains.
She further adds that CHWs effectively work with organizations that cater for the welfare of the community.