Can community health workers contribute to strengthen health systems in Latin America?
The overall purpose of this project network is to strengthen research capacity and expertise in the field of health policy and systems research, with a special focus on Community Health Workers in Bolivia and Ecuador.
In this way, the project will contribute to the building of strong health systems that can respond to the needs of the most vulnerable populations in the Latin American context.
A renewed interest in community health workers (CHWs) programs was sparked globally in the 2000s by a sense of urgency in attaining Universal Health Coverage. Despite this interest, health systems reforms implemented in Latin America since the late 1990s marginalize CHWs as key actors within the primary health care systems of the region.
Thus, the overall purpose of the present project is two-fold: i) to conduct research to map the current situation of the CHWs and to explore the role they could play to strengthen UHC in Bolivia and Ecuador; and ii) to create a health systems research network aiming capacity building and regional collaboration.
This will be done through the development of a collaborative partnership mainly between researchers at the San Simón University, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the University of San Francisco of Quito, Ecuador and the Department of Epidemiology and Global Health at Umeå University.
The research project will be carried out over the course of two years with a series of: i) between-country activities: three workshops in Bolivia and Ecuador to plan and critically discuss the research objectives, and generate ideas for future projects; ii) within-country activities to collect and analyse data for the CHWs studies.
We believe that investment in CHWs can strengthen health systems, accelerate Universal Health Coverage and as consequence contribute to poverty reduction in the participating countries.