CHWs: The Key to Improving Healthcare Access in Underserved Communities
Access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, yet many communities around the world struggle to get the medical care they need. In rural and underserved areas, lack of healthcare infrastructure and limited access to trained medical professionals can make it difficult for people to get the care they need. This is where community health workers (CHWs) can play a critical role.
CHWs are community members who are trained to provide basic health education, support, and referrals to people in their own communities. They help to bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients, providing access to care and support in areas where traditional healthcare infrastructure is lacking.
The impact of CHWs on healthcare access is well documented. A study by the World Health Organization found that CHW programs can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, making them an effective tool for improving access to care in underserved communities.
One of the key benefits of CHW programs is that they help to reduce the burden on already-stretched healthcare facilities. By providing basic health education and support, CHWs can help to prevent the need for costly and time-consuming hospital visits.
CHW programs can also help to reach patients in remote or underserved areas. A study by the Pan American Health Organization found that CHW programs can improve access to care for patients in rural areas, who may be hours away from the nearest healthcare facility.
The benefits of CHW programs are well studied and documented. For example, a study by the Journal of Community Health found that CHW programs can increase the use of preventive health services by up to 20%. Another study by the Health Promotion Practice journal found that CHW programs can improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and increase patient satisfaction.
The future of CHW programs is bright, and they are likely to become an increasingly important tool in overcoming barriers to healthcare access in underserved communities. With growing awareness of the benefits of CHW programs, more and more patients will be able to access care when and where they need it.
In conclusion, community health workers have the potential to play a critical role in improving healthcare access in underserved communities. By providing patients with a bridge to care when traditional healthcare infrastructure is lacking, CHW programs can help to ensure that people get the care they need, even in the most challenging circumstances. HSRE is committed to supporting the growth of CHW programs and their use in communities affected by natural disasters, and is working to make CHW programs a reality for more patients every day.
- World Health Organization. (2017). Community health workers. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/community-health-workers
- Pan American Health Organization. (2013). The role of community health workers in improving access to care. Retrieved from https://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5583&Itemid=41696&lang=en
- Journal of Community Health. (2016). The impact of community health worker programs on preventive health service use. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10900-016-0170-2
Health Promotion Practice. (2013). The impact of community health worker programs on patient outcomes, healthcare costs, and patient satisfaction. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1524839913477896