Recognizing the Contributions of Community Health Workers on International Workers' Day 2023
International Workers’ Day is a day to recognize the contributions of workers around the world and to honor the struggles of workers who have fought for fair pay, safe working conditions, and other basic rights. The holiday has its roots in the labor movement and commemorates the Haymarket affair in Chicago in 1886, where workers were protesting for an eight-hour workday. Today, it is celebrated in many countries around the world.
As we celebrate International Workers’ Day this year, Dimagi would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of community health workers (CHWs) who are often overlooked and undervalued. CHWs are frontline health workers who work in their own communities to improve health outcomes and provide essential health services to people who might otherwise not have access to healthcare. They are often the first point of contact for people seeking healthcare, and they play a crucial role in promoting health and well-being in their communities.
Despite the critical role they play, CHWs face numerous challenges, including limited resources, inadequate compensation, and lack of support. Many CHWs work long hours for little pay, and they often lack the training and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
At Dimagi, a core value is that we prioritize impact, team, and profit, in that order. Through our mobile health platform, CommCare, we are working with CHWs and healthcare providers to improve the delivery of care and promote better health outcomes. CommCare is designed to support the work of CHWs by providing them with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively, including support for data collection, decision-making, and communication.
While we are a technology company, we recognize that lasting impact requires going beyond software. Our first strategic priority for the next five years is Improving Frontline Worker Jobs to Improve Outcomes. We understand that CHWs and other frontline workers are the backbone of health service delivery globally, and if their jobs are not good jobs, we will continue to struggle to remove barriers to access. CHWs often face burnout, high turnover, insufficient support, and lack of recognition. As a technology company building tools for frontline health workers, we are committed to ensuring that our tools make their jobs better, not worse.
Now, we are not alone in this fight. The Community Health Impact Coalition (CHIC) is a global network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen community health systems and support CHWs. The many CHIC members including Dimagi are committed to supporting CHWs and advocating for policies and investments that improve their working conditions and compensation.
We have our work cut out for us. Half of CHWs in our target areas are not salaried. Of the 137 countries CHIC tracks, only 34 have at least one CHW cadre that is both accredited and salaried. As a community, we must do better.
On this International Workers’ Day, let’s celebrate the contributions of CHWs and commit to working together to ensure they receive the support and resources they need to continue their vital work. By investing in innovative solutions like CommCare and supporting organizations like CHIC, we can build stronger, more resilient community health systems and improve health outcomes for all. Let’s also continue to push for better working conditions and workers’ rights for CHWs around the world, so they can be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
To learn more about Improving Jobs to Improve Outcomes, have a listen to Why Improving Frontline Worker Jobs is Critical to Improving Health Outcomes with Dr. Neal Lesh and Prioritizing better jobs for Frontline Workers in the digital health community with Jonathan Jackson on the High-Impact Growth Podcast.
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