When will CHWs receive the compensation they deserve?

Investing in community health workers is investing in health for all


Written by Beena Bhamani and Murchana Roychoudhury

Community Health Workers (CHWs),  70 percent of whom are women, are a critical workforce to achieve health for all. However, most of them work as unpaid volunteers, without the necessary resources and recognition for their monumental contributions to global health. 

In many low- and middle-income countries, CHWs are the backbone for implementing malaria control efforts. Without their involvement and support, timely access to quality treatments and preventive medicines for malaria will never reach those in need. 

The effectiveness of the CHW model has not gone unnoticed by policymakers. In fact, several countries with high malaria burden have adopted strategies that train CHWs to test, treat, deliver bednets, monitor and refer malaria cases, resulting in a significant reduction in malaria cases. Despite these successes, CHWs fight an uphill battle, trying to access just compensation, training, and sustainable working conditions.

What justifies our reliance on the unpaid labour of CHWs? Is it because most are women and that society is bound by the archaic notion that women are natural caregivers and are inherently destined to care for their families and communities? Will the triumphs against malaria be forever eclipsed by records of labour exploitation?

This International Women’s Day, MESA stands with the unsung heroines without whose relentless efforts, malaria will not be beaten. We believe that fairly compensating, skilling, resourcing and retaining CHWs is essential for the global effort against malaria, and can have direct impacts on the quality and sustainability of malaria interventions. Let’s invest in women and accelerate progress against diseases like malaria.

The Community Health Impact Coalition (CHIC) is making professional community health workers a norm worldwide by changing guidelines, funding and policy. They have also developed the proCHW policy dashboard to track progress worldwide.

Categories: Malaria