Significance of Community-Level Health workers during COVID 19

In the current health crisis that we all are in, being anxious and worried about our health and our family’s well-being is quite prevalent. In such times, the role of community-health workers, who continue to be on the frontline providing care, treatment and information, becomes much more amplified.
As the world is learning to live safely alongside coronavirus, HPPI across its various projects is reaching out to the most vulnerable members of our society.  In Ranga Reddy, Telangana, HPPI’s Community Development Project implemented with support from Johnson and Johnson is continuing to improve the quality of life and health facilities in 95 villages, covering a population of 143,289 people under the project ‘Strengthening Anganwadi for Healthy & Educated Communities’.
Launched in 2015, the project strengthens the healthcare capacities and provides health awareness and early child care services at 151 Anganwadi Centres and 37 Government health sub-centres by capacity building of the frontline workers. ASHA workers and Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) engaged in Government sub-centres are trained to extend awareness and quality services for pregnant women and new mothers, a service they have continued to provide during the lockdown period. 
Project staff members in collaboration with government authorities and community-level health workers are actively raising awareness through door-to-door visits as well as using technology to maximise their reach. While technology plays a vital role in expanding the reach of the intervention, the vital human connect is crucial in case of prenatal and postnatal support. More than 250 community-level health workers including doctors, Anganwadi accelerators, ASHA workers and ANMs are working to inform community members including children and pregnant women about the importance of social distancing, having a nutritious meal and washing hands as frequently as possible. Starting with monthly meetings, 20-30 ASHA workers and ANMs are being trained in a staggered manner at the local municipal office so that social distancing can be maintained at the primary health centres. These women then go door-to-door and provide information to the expecting mothers on the importance of immunisation, a balanced diet, how to practice safe measures during lockdown, post-natal care etc. 
 
To maximise the information and awareness about the coronavirus, Anganwadi accelerators have now made posters on Covid-19 awareness which they send to the Anganwadi Teachers, ASHAs, ANMs and Women Health Group members in the villages through WhatsApp. The Project Health Clinics have also stayed open for patients with all the staff wearing PPE kits for safety. The temperature of each patient coming to the clinic for the doctor’s consultation is measured and they are asked to wait for their turn by keeping proper social distance. Additionally, the health team at the clinic is ensuring every patient washes/sanitises their hands before entering the clinic. In villages where visits by the healthcare staff are not feasible, doctors are offering tele-consultation services via phones.
Being safe and aware is a continuous effort and our project staff are regularly spreading awareness about protection from coronavirus, its symptoms and testing. At a time where staying inside our homes is one of the only ways to remain safe, the hardwork and dedication of the community-level health workers who are at the frontline is really commendable. 
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