News @ JSI

Sierra Leone Revises Policy for Community Health Workers

February 6, 2017

Since December 2015, the Advancing Partners & Communities project, implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, has provided training, technical assistance, and operational support for revising and implementing Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) Community Health Worker (CHW) Policy, 2016-2020.

On February 2, 2017, the Government launched the revised policy, which recognizes CHWs' increasingly important role in strengthening the link between communities and the health system. In a country that has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world, CHWs are involved in health education, community mobilization, and disease prevention, as demonstrated by their engagement during the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak.

The policy is now a cornerstone of the Presidential Recovery Plan. USAID is supporting the following activities:

  • Establishment of leadership for the MOHS CHW hub.
  • Increased CHW provision of preventive and curative services for women and children.
  • An updated training plan for CHWs and their supervisors, as well as subsequent training of 1,500 CHWs.
  • Inclusion of CHW program data into the health management information system.
In an effort to integrate CHWs into the health system, USAID supports UNICEF to work with the MOHS to incorporate almost 15,000 CHW profiles into the human resources information system. The MOHS’ eHealth Coordination Hub will capture key health-related information from the community. CHWs will send and receive this information through their mobile phones.

Representatives of the World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, the Global Fund and other stakeholders spoke at the launch, as well as CHWs who were at the forefront of fighting the EVD outbreak. Saad Hussein, USAID/Sierra Leone’s health adviser, described CHWs as the unsung heroes of the response. “[They] made sacrifices by serving their communities in very challenging locations and conditions,” he stated.

In addition to recognizing lessons from the recent EVD outbreak, the MOHS looked at examples of successful CHW programs across the continent. Dr. Joseph Kandeh, director of primary health care for the MOHS, presented the key elements of the policy, praised development partners for their ongoing support, and highlighted the need to focus on the program's long-term sustainability.