Community Health Workers (CHWs) can ably contribute to the prevention and of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) if equipped with the required training and knowledge, a new study has revealed.
The study was conducted to assess the level of involvement of community health workers in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control.
Titled ‘Community health workers’ involvement in the prevention of non-communicable diseases’, the study was conducted in Wakiso District and it indicates that community health workers are integral to addressing accessibility challenges and the human resource shortfalls in health service delivery in Uganda and elsewhere.
Non-Communicable diseases are non-transmissible diseases such as most cancers, diabetes among others.
About 70% of all deaths globally are caused by NCDs, of which 87% occur in low middle income countries and according to the researchers, in Uganda, the occurrence of NCDs has been increasing steadily in the recent years.
“For instance, data from the Out Patient Department at health facilities in the country showed that between 2012 and 2016, hypertension increased from 60,000 to 85,000 cases, while diabetes cases rose from 30,000 to 32,000, an increase of 42 and 7% respectively,” the research report reads in part.
“Additionally, only 10% of women aged 30–49 years had been screened for cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in Uganda. Similarly, the prevalence of hypertension in the Ugandan population is high, yet most people with the disease are not aware of their status,” the report further indicates.
Although the study findings revealed that most community health workers (CHWs) were knowledgeable about the different types of NCDs and preventive measures through lifestyle modification, their role in the prevention and management of these diseases was minimal.
“From the findings, it is evident that CHWs knew that they had a potential role to play in NCDs prevention and control. However, this potential, as well as the existing roles of CHWs, were impeded. Their involvement in the prevention and control of the diseases was low,” the researchers noted.
They also confirmed that whereas CHWs execute extensive community mobilisation, empowerment for disease prevention and health promotion for communicable diseases as well as maternal and child health, there is limited simultaneous action on NCDs in communities.
They recommended that through training and community engagement, CHWs can contribute in the prevention and control of NCDs.
“Through enhanced training and community engagement, CHWs can contribute to the prevention and control of NCDs, including health education and community mobilisation,” the study report reads.