Celebrating World Health Worker Week (April 5 -11, 2015), a new story map from Esri, The Earth Institute at Columbia, and Direct Relief, aims to raise support and awareness for the life changing contributions of community health workers.
In dozens of countries, tens of thousands of women and men get up each morning to travel miles over rough roads and across rivers and streams to provide primary health care in some of the world’s most remote, vulnerable, and hard-to-reach places. At any given moment, these people, known as Community Health Workers (CHWs), are monitoring Ebola contacts, counseling an HIV-positive person, surveying basic health needs, or helping a newborn at risk of pneumonia.
On Front Lines of the Ebola Crisis
When the Ebola epidemic swept through West Africa last year, international organizations had difficulty establishing and maintaining community trust. Community Health Workers, many of whom are from the communities they serve, stepped in to bridge the gap. Not coincidentally, the organizations with the most durable results to show also relied extensively on CHWs for case tracking, diagnosis, sensitization, referral, and follow up. Such groups include Partners in Health and Last Mile Health in Liberia, UNFPA in Guinea, and Medical Research Centre (MRC) and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone.
Arguably, CHWs are the key for the countries now rebuilding their health systems to be more comprehensive, effective, and resilient following the shock of the Ebola epidemic. They may also be the best defense against a repeat of these events in the future.
Beyond Ebola: One Million Community Health Workers
While the Ebola epidemic spotlighted the crucial work of CHWs, their value extends far beyond Ebola and West Africa. The One-Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign was formed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University to advocate for CHWs and document their far-reaching value.
Direct Relief and Esri teamed up with the Campaign last year to build the Operations Room; a suite of mapping applications that track the scope and enable a detailed comparison of CHW activities.
29 Stories. 24 Hours. 13 Countries
A Day in the Life: Snapshots from 24 Hours in the Lives of Community Health Workers is the latest map in the 1mCHW Campaign. It aims to convey not only the importance of the work that CHWs perform, but the everyday texture and genuine beauty of the lives they improve. This map is a guided tour of 29 CHWs in action during one long day across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Through the CHW story map, people can learn about and become more deeply engaged in one of the great causes of our time — ensuring that every person on Earth has access to health care.