Community health worker perspectives on a new primary health care initiative in the Eastern Cape of South Africa

Austin-Evelyn, Katherine; Rabkin, Miriam; Macheka, Tonderayi; Mutiti, Anthony; Mwansa-Kambafwile, Judith; Dlamini, Thomas; El-Sadr, Wafaa Mahmoud

In 2010, South Africa’s National Department of Health launched a national primary health care (PHC) initiative to strengthen health promotion, disease prevention, and early disease detection. The strategy, called Re-engineering Primary Health Care (rPHC), aims to provide a preventive and health-promoting community-based PHC model. A key component of rPHC is the use of community-based outreach teams staffed by generalist community health workers (CHWs).

We conducted focus group discussions and surveys on the knowledge and attitudes of 91 CHWs working on community-based rPHC teams in the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) sub-district of Eastern Cape Province.

The CHWs we studied enjoyed their work and found it meaningful, as they saw themselves as agents of change. They also perceived weaknesses in the implementation of outreach team oversight, and desired field-based training and more supervision in the community.

There is a need to provide CHWs with basic resources like equipment, supplies and transport to improve their acceptability and credibility to the communities they serve.

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International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs
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April 27, 2017