A new paper published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization has determined that providing rural sub-Saharan Africans a close-to-client health system by paid, full-time community health workers by 2015 would cost $2.6 billion per year, or just $6.86 per person covered by the program.
The paper, authored by Gordon McCord at the University of California, San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and Prabhjot Singh and Anne Liu at Columbia University's Earth Institute, details an analysis of the financial cost of a planned expansion of community health worker (CHW) programs across rural sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reaching full coverage, or around one million CHWs by 2015. Government health programs and non-governmental organizations, like the Millennium Villages, have successfully piloted CHW programs in many communities across Africa. These efforts have demonstrated overwhelming evidence that community-based interventions – implemented by CHWs – are an effective platform for extending health care delivery and improving health outcomes. Moreover, CHWs provide the rural poor a critical link to the broader healthcare system of doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics.
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