Community health workers
The worldwide shortage of healthcare staff means that necessary treatments are often not delivered. Lay people, without full medical training, are stepping up to meet local needs, as Vijaya Bhatt and Aaradhana Jha explain
Human resources are one of the vital determinants of the quality of health services. The number of health workers has been linked to the output of a health system and the health outcomes in a society. The number of health workers is also a key indicator of a country's capacity to increase delivery of interventions.1–4
Countries with acute shortages in personnel urgently need a rapid increase in the number of health workers (box),4 and the use of community health workers is a possible solution.7
Community health workers are people chosen by the community who are trained to deal with the health problems of people in the community and may or may not be paid. They are known by different names in different countries. For example, in Nepal they are female community health volunteers; in India village health guides; and in Bangladesh shastho shebikas.
Community health workers apply their understanding of