Community Health Workers' roles in Ebola and Zika epidemics
Although the International Health Regulations and Joint External Evaluation frameworks suggest that countries should employ a skilled and competent workforce of physicians, veterinarians, biostatisticians, laboratory scientists, livestock professionals and field epidemiologists, this is rarely a reality in low-resource countries.
CHWs were used in the 2015 Zika outbreak to communicate health information to reduce infection risk in susceptible communities, and they were also used to distribute Zika prevention kits. CHWs were used in Brazil to triage conditions and provide basic primary care for minor ailments, and to refer more acutely ill patients to nurses of physicians.

In the 2014 Ebola epidemic, CHWs embedded in communities assisted with disease surveillance and reporting of symptoms and epidemiological patterns.
  • New roles
  • Expanded roles
  • Community Health Workers
  • Volunteers
Large-scale infectious disease outbreaks stress countries' health services. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are lay persons who can extend health services in underserved and remote populations to assist with communication or health services provision. CHWs are underutilized in responses to infectious disease outbreaks.
  • Community Health Services
  • Primary Health Care
  • Public Health
CHWs are already in communities and possess the cultural competencies and communication skills required to effectively interface with communities.
Research Intervention - outcome data available
Boyce, M. R., & Katz, R. (2019). Community health workers and pandemic preparedness: current and prospective roles. Frontiers in public health, 7, 62.
Matthew Boyce
Center for Global Health Science & Security, Georgetown University
Caribbean, Central, Latin & South America
Brazil, West Africa
Published Literature

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