Key Roles of a Community Health Volunteer

By Melavin Muthamaki

Community Health Volunteers play an important role in educating the community

CHVs Key Tasks

  1. Pregnancy & Newborn
  • How to recognize pregnancy danger signs
  • Birth preparedness and developing a birth plan
  • Refer pregnant mothers to ANC Clinics and ensure they attend at least 4 clinics
  1. Early Childhood
  • How to take care of the sick child at home e.g. ORS administration
  • How to spot danger signs e.g. bulging fontanelle
  • Encourage service seeking behavior in an effort to ensure children complete immunization cycle
  • Conduct growth monitoring
  • Visit the newborn mother at home to counsel on breastfeeding, how to latch and the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding
  • Encourage the use of long term treated mosquito nets
Community Health Volunteers recording height and weight on young children at the Hopecore mobile clinic.
  1. Late Childhood (6-12 years)
  • Ensure the children are enrolled in school
  • Hygiene education to the children
  • Encourage HPV Vaccination for 10-year-old girls
  1. Adolescence and Youth (13-24 years)
  • Behavior change communication 
  • Supply of preventive commodities such as condoms
  • How to seek healthcare especially on STIs- link up with youth-friendly services
  1. Adulthood (25-59 years)
  • Behavior change communication
  • Conduct community dialogue days where community members suggest ways to improve their community
  • Promote gender and health rights
  • Improve hygiene and sanitation by ensuring each household has a latrine and handwashing station
  • Referral services e.g. for those who present with a cough
  • Supply of preventive commodities
  • Ensure all clients under TB medication are taking their medication
  • Encourage HIV testing and use of ARVs for those tested +ve
  • Encourage those with chronic illnesses to join support groups
growth monitoring
Community Health Volunteers assist with Growth Monitoring of Children under 5 years of age
  1. The elderly
  • Refer for routine health checkups at least once each month
  • Advocacy e.g. to have the government pay for insurance for all people over 60
  • Management and rehabilitation of clinical problems i.e. home-based care
  • Behavior change communication to reduce harmful practices

Overall Health Promotion

  • Demonstrating a healthy diet for people at all stages in life in order to meet nutritional needs 
  • Providing guidance on social capital to ensure mutual support in meeting daily needs as well as coping with shocks in life 
  • Encouraging demand for health care and social entitlements as citizens
  • Observing health status to ensure early detection of problems for timely action. 
  • Providing guidance on gender equity 
  • Encouraging emergency preparedness 

Controlling communicable disease through behavior change, modification and formation of healthy practices (HIV/AIDS, STI, TB, malaria). 

  • Providing first aid such as Oral Rehydration Therapy.
  • Demonstrating good personal hygiene in terms of washing hands, using latrines, etc. 
  • Ensuring access to water treatment for safe drinking water.
  • Demonstrating and encouraging integrated vector control measures. 
  • Enhancing the prevention of accidents and abuse and taking appropriate action when they occur. 
Community Health Volunteers assist with health promotion in all stages of life.

Family health services to expand FP, maternal, child and youth services

  • Promoting Maternal-Child Health & Family Planning, maternal care, use of trained obstetric care, immunization, nutrition, community-based IMCI. 
  • Promoting improved adolescent reproductive health through household and community- based dialogue targeting behavior formation, modification, and change. 
  • Facilitating the organization of community- based day-care centers. 
  • Maintaining a community-based referral system, particularly for emergencies. 

Hygiene and environmental sanitation 

  • Providing IEC for water, hygiene, sanitation, and school health. 
  • Demonstrating and promoting safe, effective disposal of excreta/solid waste. 
  • Improving water sources to ensure access to safe drinking water. 
  • Demonstrating and practicing good food hygiene. 
  • Demonstrating good personal hygiene.
  • Developing kitchen gardens.
  • Organizing community dialogue and health days

Care seeking and compliance with treatment and advice

  • Training and supporting home caregivers.
  • Facilitating the availability of and access to vaccines.
  • Training caregivers to recognize signs of illness and on the need for a referral or seeking care outside the home.
  • Encouraging compliance with recommendations given by health workers in relation to treatment, follow-up and referral. 
  • Ensuring every pregnant woman receives antenatal and maternity care services. 

Governance and management of health services

  • Attending and taking an active part in meetings to discuss trends in coverage, morbidity, resources and client satisfaction. 
  • Giving feedback to the service system either directly or through representation.

Claiming rights

  • Promoting community rights in health care.
  • Ensuring that health care providers in the community are accountable for effective health service delivery and resource use, and above all are functioning in line with the Citizen’s Health charter. 

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