Some of our recent blogs have focused on state and national level policies regarding peer supporters and community health workers (CHWs). Although understanding these policies is a critical factor in successfully implementing peer support programs, it is difficult to illustrate the individual level benefits such programs can have when discussing state or federal guidelines. A recent article on the UNICEF website by Madeleine Logan does an excellent job highlighting the impact two CHWs have had on their community.
In 2008 the UNICEF-funded Community Case Management program in coordination with the Ghana Health Service visited the community of Kpalsako and offered to train two local volunteers to treat children sick with malaria and diarrhea. The community selected two members to receive training to be Community Based Agents (CBA). The members selected were then trained to treat children between 6 months and 5 years old and educate the community about positive health and hygiene practices. In 2010 the CBA’s received training in treating pneumonia as part of ongoing support for the program. CBA’s were also given medication to treat the community children including malaria medication, amoxicillin syrup for pneumonia, and zinc tablets and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea. Finally, the CBAs were trained to refer sick children to the nearest community health center if their symptoms do not improve, but offer a critical tie to health care for the community because the center is an hour walk away on foot.
In addition to the strong personal narratives contained in the article , the impact of this program was reflected in the number of malaria cases in the community with an estimated drop from 15 to 5 cases per month in children since the CBAs were trained. The program has been successful in communities outside of Kpalsako as Ghana Health Service National Child Health Coordinator Isabella Sagoe-Moses notes CBAs have brought health care to those most in need. It is estimated that the programs community volunteers treated approximately 83,000 cases of malaria and 17,000 cases of diarrhea in the three northern regions of Ghana in 2010.
While this blog will continue to focus on research projects, funding opportunities, key findings in peer support and many other topics we continue to recognize the importance of highlighting the success of peer support programs around the globe of all sizes. Success stories are regularly highlighted on our Facebook Page and we invite our readers to share their own stories and findings for future blog posts.