The healthcare industry is going through tough times. The new variants and waves of Covid-19 are putting a lot of pressure on hospitals. Simultaneously, the shortage of health workers is making it arduous to provide quality health services to patients. With the rising crisis in the healthcare sector, community health workers are stepping in to help practitioners. They can raise awareness about preventive measures such as social distancing and isolation to reduce the virus’s outspread.
However, the role of community health workers is not limited to helping practitioners. They develop networks between vulnerable populaces and healthcare suppliers to improve access to health services. Similarly, they assist patients in navigating the healthcare and public service systems. The community workers also educate healthcare practitioners and nurses about the community’s health needs. Since they are familiar with nutritional deficiencies and diseases, doctors can utilize this information and treat patients better.
In short, one could say that community health workers are the backbone of this industry. From patient care, social welfare to literacy support – they address health issues and find ways to combat them. If you want to learn more about community workers, keep reading. Here we are listing the roles of community health workers in society’s development.
1. Promote Social Welfare
Although the federal government provides grants to assist needy families, they need more than monetary help. Community health workers organize social welfare programs through different means to accommodate every individuals’ needs. They host food stamps and nutritional plans to provide easier access to food in general. Likewise, they collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to offer free medicines to patients who can’t afford them.
Undoubtedly, the job of community health workers is super rewarding. If you also believe in making a difference and helping others, become a health worker. You can complete a masters public health degree online to take charge of others’ health and aid underserved communities.
2. Assist Women during Labor
Usually, mid-wife nurses assist women during labor and birth. Due to the shortage of health workers, community health workers are providing continuous support during labor. They have fundamental lifesaving skills that can help mothers in emergencies. Likewise, they know how to manage deliveries and newborn emergencies.
Besides, many of them also have expertise in detecting high-risk pregnancies and labor complications. Upon early detection, they can communicate this concern to gynecologists, reducing the infant mortality rate. Moreover, they school new mothers about maternal hygiene while helping them deal with post-partum. These skills are beneficial, especially when working in developing countries and understaffed hospitals.
3. Offer Curative Health Services
The community health workers can diagnose and manage common childhood illnesses. Usually, children suffer from malnutrition, diarrhea, and pneumonia in developing countries. The allied health workers distribute knowledge and spread awareness for treating such issues. Similarly, they provide pediatric tablets for children with symptoms of pneumonia to cure illnesses immediately. These community workers have the training to identify and treat infants with asphyxia.
The curative health’s goal is to resolve illnesses and bring patients to their health status before it affects internal bodily functions. Hence, health workers detect disease patterns in adults as well. For instance, if a woman complains of chest pains with a minor infection, they will instantly check breast cancer symptoms. Early detection can reduce treatment procedures and healthcare expenses while curing the patient quickly.
4. Community Mobilization
The goal of community mobilization is to engage community members and address a particular cause. The community health workers bring people together and highlight a specific issue that can contribute to society’s development. For instance, if residents don’t have access to clean water sources, they can install a sanitation plant by gathering funds. People could participate in the on-going drive through different means. They can organize and implement activities, donate money, or conduct community meetings.
On a larger scale, health workers engage all population sectors to address health, social, and environmental issues. They arrange meetings with policymakers, opinion leaders, and the federal government to take some action to facilitate change. They underline common issues citizens face in their lives and encourage the state to resolve issues. For instance, if there are no public toilets in a particular region, they will request immediate bathroom installation.
5. Health Literacy Support
Currently, practitioners are working overtime to accommodate more and more patients. Hence, they don’t have enough time to sit with patients and explain the jargon. As a result, community health workers are taking over this responsibility. They help patients understand medical advice and recommendations given by the doctors. Likewise, they clarify and answer questions stemming from patients’ encounters with healthcare providers, improving communication.
Moreover, community health workers assist patients in reading and filling out medical forms to address limited functional literacy. They also provide translation services to patients who can’t understand English. Besides, these workers also travel to rural areas and developing countries to spread awareness about rising health issues. From maternal hygiene to breast cancer – they discuss the most overlooked health concerns.
6. Provide Preventive Care
As they say, ‘precaution is better than cure.’ Well, the community health workers live by this rule and provide preventive care to people. It protects individuals against diseases and reduces the likelihood of health emergencies. Firstly, they ensure every person gets their medical checkup twice a year, including dental cleanings, blood tests, and gynecological care for women. Secondly, community health workers make sure adults and infants receive the vaccination to prevent life-threatening diseases.
Additionally, they distribute bed nets, vaccines, and other healthcare equipment through community-based distribution programs. These community workers ensure hospitals have sufficient resources to accommodate patients in the best possible way. Lastly, they hold screenings such as skin cancer tests, vitamins, and high blood pressure and cholesterol without charging a penny. After all, the goal of preventive care is to help people stay healthy.
Community health workers meet the unique needs of the communities they serve. From addressing health issues to providing informal counseling – community workers make every possible effort to help people in need. They advocate for underprivileged individuals and highlight their concerns in front of policy workers. These workers are striving to improve the standard of living for individuals and foster societal development.