Achieving the 2030 Agenda and future health (care) professionals

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ms. Ami Naik, a 20-year old student of Third Year MBBS, pursuing from Pramukh Swami Medical College, Karamsad, Gujarat, India. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The 2030 Agenda of the United Nations includes majorly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has a long list of objectives that include maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition. Needless to say, the role of Healthcare professionals is much significant to achieve the said target.

There is less than a decade left and with this pandemic situation going on, it had a giant hurdle in its way but thanks to the expansion of Community Health Worker programs (CHWs), it got a much needed momentum. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined the Primary Health Care (PHC) and health related development work more generally, making more robust CHW programs that are much more important to achieving health and development goals.

If we want to note down the challenges, they could probably never end; but let’s look at what future healthcare workers can do and learn from the past.

Institutional and human capacities are bedrock of strong health care system. They are essential to create the resilience needed to withstand health system shocks and to ensure continuity in the universal delivery of effective, quality services to all people at all stages of life and in all settings.

For achieving health related targets of the SDGs, there are 3 reasons why CHWs are a better option:

  1. CHWs can be trained and deployed quickly.
  2. Since CHWs are based in a community, the challenges of geographical access are significantly reduced. Many lower income countries may have widely dispersed population with a low travel infrastructure and still many people in rural settings travel by foot. This strategy can enable these people access to the basic health facilities easily. Also, CHW requires locally available human resources like trained nurses and doctors; supporting and improving availability of these appropriately-trained professionals may prove to be cost effective and may also give quicker results of improvement in the population. 
  3. Given current disease burden, more lives of mothers and children can be saved by comparatively simple, community-based interventions than those requiring a PHC center or a hospital. According to recent modeling, expanding and increasing coverage of services that can be provided by CHWs in the community could avert 2.3 million maternal and child deaths per year.

Apart from well-established role of CHW in maternal and child care, it can also play a crucial role in screening and management of non communicable diseases like Hypertension and Diabetes.

CHWs count. It is time, now, for governments and UN agencies to: enumerate CHWs—together with doctors, nurses, and allied health personnel—in their official health statistics; ensure they are reflected in national planning for human resources for health, including provision of adequate numbers of CHWs; and give priority to supervisory, logistical, and other needed support for these programs.

CHWs shouldn’t be seen as stop-gaps; they can be a part of strategies for future of Primary Health Care.

About the author

This article was exclusively written by Ms. Ami Naik, a 20-year old student of Third Year MBBS, pursuing from Pramukh Swami Medical College, Karamsad, Gujarat, India. She is an official member of MSAI since 2019. She is a compelling humanitarian and is quite eager to make a change in the field of healthcare and medicine so that all classes can have not only basic access to health care but can also obtain advanced facilities; and considers MSAI a platform to do so.

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