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Community Health Workers Play Critical Role In Targeting Primary Care To Improve Child Health Outcomes

Hindustan Times: To save lives of children, diagnose and treat their social vulnerability
Tracey Johnson, senior program officer for Integrated Delivery, User Experience and Innovation, and Nachiket Mor, director of the India Country Office, both at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Recent research has identified that the greatest danger to children under five years is not acute illness, but prolonged, and as yet poorly described, forms of vulnerability that produce worse-than-anticipated outcomes, particularly when combined with other childhood illnesses. … In many countries, … community health workers play an important role in the delivery of primary health care. They often work for years in certain locations, and have an instinct about which children are more vulnerable than others. Using this instinct or social knowledge, it has been possible to co-design a social vulnerability identification tool which can help them quickly identify different family types according to the unique barriers they face (diagnosis), and to more sharply tailor their engagement with these families to target specific categories of vulnerability (treatment). … The key here is to offer groups of community health workers sufficient training and support so that they are able to create their own typologies and related heuristics, allowing them to respond rapidly with targeted guidance instead of taking a more generalized and uniform approach towards families under their care” (8/1).