Originally posted on medium.com.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are often the only link to primary health care services in under-reached communities around the world. This is the finale in a series (see part one here) that shows how strengthening supply chains supports CHWs, known as Community Health Assistants (CHAs) in Liberia, by making health products available, so they can deliver essential care to their communities.
Follow the journey to see how health products eventually end up in the hands of CHWs.
*Some of the photos in this story were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up in Liberia.*
Community Health Workers receive health supplies from supervisors
When supplies reach the last mile, the supervision team physically verifies the supplies that CHWs have available and checks expiration dates. This process is important for making sure the medicines are valid. The removal of expired and damaged medicines and proper disposal are important to ensure the safety of health products. The supervisor identifies fast and slow-moving commodities to ensure that all slow-moving items are re-allocated to other communities in need. During this time, the supervisor also offers coaching and mentorship to reinforce good practices.
The supervisor resupplies the CHW every two weeks to keep smaller quantities of anti-malarial drugs, painkillers and antibiotics available. The process usually takes about 30 minutes. Proper administration and prescribing of medicines is important, so guidance on these topics can also happen during this time.
After entering the inventory data into the digital collection tool, the CHW neatly packs the supplies into their drug box, which works as their storage unit for a month of medicines and supplies. The supervisor assesses whether proper storage practices are followed, such as having supplies stored separately from medicines and organizing by treatment type.
CHWs deliver life-saving medicines and care
CHWs receive training in the following key areas: disease control and prevention, family planning and reproductive health, maternal and neonatal health, child health, adult health and special services. These trainings are conducted over the course of a year, and after each module, the CHW is assessed before proceeding to the next one.
CHWs have become invaluable to their neighbors, especially when providing care to children under five and pregnant women living more than five kilometers from the nearest health facility. Through Last Mile Health’s training and support for community health workers and their supervisors, and VillageReach’s supply chain expertise, we are working to improve the availability of life-saving medicines, professionalize supply chain staff at the national, county and facility level, and increase access to data for informed decision-making. With the support of government stakeholders and our generous donors, we can continue to deliver on the promise of health care for all.
To learn more about the Supply Chain for Community Health Workers program in Liberia, go here (PDF).