On the Front Line

Investing in community health workers to improve health and nutrition

A woman health worker carrying a cooler box vaccine carrier
UNICEF/UN0685534/Prasad Ngakhusi


Who can reach children in the most isolated and deprived communities? Who can reassure parents that immunization will save their child’s life? Who can help pregnant women and new mothers get the nutrition they need to raise healthy children? Who can help strengthen countries’ health systems, so that they will be better prepared to face the next pandemic or the aftermath of the next natural disaster? The answer to all these questions is community health workers. They are front-line health-care workers – mostly women – who are trained to deliver vital health and nutrition services to women and children in their communities, such as vaccination and screening children for severe malnutrition (wasting).

This is a UNICEF advocacy brief that looks at the vital role that these workers play in reducing child and maternal mortality. It explores some of the challenges they face, and it makes the case for stronger investments in community health. It concludes with recommendations on specific areas that UNICEF and partners can prioritise in terms of advocacy, to improve conditions for these workers, and ultimately reduce maternal and child mortality.

A woman health worker carrying a cooler box vaccine carrier
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