Spotlight: Community Health Agents programs
From 2006, ADPP has been adopting a systematic approach to community health, recruiting, training and organizing local community members to promote preventative health care and uptake of existing health services via repeat house to house visits. Initially, these “Total Control of the Epidemic” projects in Cunene and Bengo, which reached more than half a million people, focused on HIV/AIDS. From 2010, ADPP developed the concept to a Community Health Agents program, covering many aspects of community health, including: sexual and reproductive health, malaria, maternal and child health, nutrition and more. ADPP is currently developing the Community Health Agents program in alignment with the Angola’s emerging policy for Community & Health Development Agents (ADECOS).
The basic aim of the Community Health Agents is twofold: to provide community members information and support for behavior change in health matters, and to provide links between health services and community members. Thus a Community Health Agent might provide information on maternal health in pregnancy, mobilize a woman to attend pre-natal consultations at the clinic, talk to other family members about different aspect of health during pregnancy and help find solutions so the woman can get the necessary rest and nutrition, or the family can find a way of getting to a clinic for the birth. Often, the Community Health Agent will assist at local clinic on pre-natal consultation days, giving talks to the women waiting for their consultation.
Typically, the Community Health Agents are responsible for approximately 100 families each, who they visit and revisit to provide tailored advice and individual assistance. They also give small group lessons, liaise with clinics and work with traditional authorities and other stakeholders in their area. The Agents are organized in cluster of 25, supervised by a Cluster leader. After initial training of around 2 weeks, the Community Health Agents receive fortnightly refresher training.