Series: What the Health?

Anna SnyderCommunities, Health systems strengthening, Healthcare

Introducing the Unsung Heroes of Sierra Leone

What comes to mind when you think of a Community Health Worker (CHW)?  The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines a Community Health Worker as, “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.” 

CHWs vary in difference throughout the world.  In countries that are highly developed, a CHW might have the title of “Health Coach” and is likely to be working with low-income patients or in areas where poverty is more prevalent.  Specifically, countries which are still developing, a CHW is incredibly crucial. Many of these countries do not have access or funds for physicians and nurses, making their CHW an affordable option.  A CHW will typically be a member of the community creating a foundation of trust for those needing and/or seeing medical attention.  

What to Expect in This Series

So, what does a Community Health Worker look like for a deprived country like Sierra Leone?  Torn apart by civil war and since withstanding the Ebola Virus outbreak, devastating floods and mudslides that took the lives of thousands of people, Sierra Leone has suffered extensively. It is one of the most undeveloped countries in the world rated 179 out of 188 on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index.  Throughout this series, we will highlight CHWs working at facilities within our Charity Health Network. It is our hope to educate and empower readers inviting you to “get to know” these healthcare heroes and see how you can help our champions who are inspiring change and igniting hope in their communities every single day.

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