As Ebola prompts calls and support for a much-needed increase in the number of trained community health workers, it is critical that we understand where these workers are and where coverage gaps exist. To that end, Direct Relief and Esri developed a map to track the availability of community health workers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The map supports the 1 Million Community Health Workers Campaign — a collaboration between the United Nations and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, which aims to expand community health worker programs across the region – the very kind that may have caught the current outbreak earlier and may help prevent future outbreaks from occurring.
About community health workers
What is a community health worker?
In 2008, the International Labor Organization (ILO) developed a standard definition of a community health worker, which the Campaign uses to define, categorize, and count CHWs: “Community health workers provide health education and referrals for a broad range of services and provide support and assistance to communities, families and individuals with preventive health measures and gaining access to appropriate curative and social services. They create a bridge between providers of health, social and community services and communities that may have difficulty in accessing these services.”
What is the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign?
The One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign promotes the efficient use of community health workers in achieving universal health coverage and works to increase knowledge about the importance of CHWs in the post-2015 development agenda. As part of this advocacy, the Campaign urges financing organizations to support CHWs and tries to motivate countries to demand this support from donors.
Why one million?
A CHW Technical Task Force commissioned by the Earth Institute in 2011 agreed that there will be a total of 1 million CHWs needed (1 CHW per 500 people) to achieve systematic Human Resources for Health (HRH) coverage of the low-income, rural sub-Saharan African population of 500 million by 2015. The Campaign was set up to support sub-Saharan African governments reach this number.
About the data
How was the data collected?
Beginning in August 2013, the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign surveyed community health organizations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. With respondents ranging from Ministries of Health to NGOs, the questions addressed topics such as the number of CHWs employed and the training they receive. The Campaign continues to collect CHW information in both English and French through the Operations Room and organization outreach.
How current is the information on the map?
The Campaign is continually soliciting new data via the Operations Room surveys. The date of the last update can be found in the legend.
How frequently is the map updated?
The map was designed to be a constantly evolving tool, regularly updated with information submitted by organizations deploying community health workers across sub-Saharan Africa. The map is refreshed every month as new data becomes available. The date of the data update can be found in the legend.
Why are not all countries on the map?
The 1mCHW Campaign works with the 35 countries that fall in the World Bank’s classification of low- to middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa. While we’re happy to learn about CHW programs in countries outside these 35, we have chosen this group of “target countries” as our priorities for funding and implementation.
Why do some countries not have district-level data?
Some countries do not have open-source, district-level demographic data available. The best attempts are made to find appropriate data at sub-national levels through sources such as the Demographic Health Survey StatCompiler, World Health Organization’s Global Observatory, and the World Bank.
How can I add information to the map?
You can add your information to the map by accessing our English and French surveys.
Where does the information for the demographic layers come from?
Much of the demographic information comes from DHS StatCompiler. Other sources used are the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory, World Bank, and government open data sites. You can find all the data sources here.