About the Author: Robert Sauers serves with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan.
In support of the United Nations designated International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health celebrated its annual Community Health Worker Day on December 5, 2010. Acting Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil, USAID Senior Deputy Mission Director Robert Hellyer, other government officials, and international donors joined in recognizing the critical contribution of community health workers in Afghanistan and encouraging them to continue their voluntary support to their communities.
The event praised the contributions of the more than 22,000 volunteers throughout the country who deliver community level health-education, counseling, and services out of village health posts located in private homes. The Ministry of Public Health envisioned that community-based healthcare programs will actively encourage communities and families to adopt healthy lifestyles and behaviors, and provide families access to high quality and socially acceptable preventative medicine and life-saving services.
"We have 22,000 community health workers in Afghanistan that are able to implement the basic and standard medicines. They all have been trained through a job description," said Minister Dalil. Addressing the health workers, she added, "I am proud...that I have people like you."
USAID-funded health projects collaborate closely with the Ministry of Public Health to improve the health and nutritional status of Afghans, provide quality primary healthcare, and promote healthy behaviors at the community and household-levels. USAID supported the training of more than 9,000 of the volunteer community health workers currently working in Afghanistan.
"On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the community health workers for their diligence to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to serve their communities in this important role," said USAID Senior Deputy Mission Director Hellyer. "USAID strongly supports community based health care and believes that quality community-based health services are essential to reaching Afghanistan's Millennium Development Goals."
USAID assisted in developing the community health worker training manual, helped train community health worker supervisors and master-trainers, facilitated in-service training, and produced and developed reporting tools, job aids, and education materials.