Community health workers for COVID-19 prevention and control

Added April 1, 2020

Citation: Bhaumik S, Moola S, Tyagi J, et al. Frontline health workers in COVID-19 prevention and control: rapid evidence synthesis. The George Institute for Global Health, India. Published online 23 March 2020.

What is this? Ensuring preparedness of frontline health workers or FLHWs (called community health workers in many countries) is essential if primary health care systems are to be prepared for COVID-19.

In this rapid evidence synthesis, the authors searched for evidence on the role of, issues and challenges for FLHWs in pandemics. They did their search on 21 March 2020, including websites of government, multinational agencies and COVID-19 resource aggregators to identify guidelines and resources to support planning. This rapid evidence synthesis integrates multiple types and levels of evidence from across the world to provide a ready resource guide for considering the use of FLHWs to control COVID-19. The authors included 36 studies, drawing on evidence from previous pandemics to inform decision making for COVID-19.

What was found: Frontline health workers are at risk of transmission of COVID-19 and should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE). This should be accompanied by training on how to use PPE.

Frontline health workers have an important role in creating awareness and countering stigma.

Routine service delivery is likely to be adversely affected by disruption in the supply-chain, logistics and supportive supervision.  Policy makers should devise guidelines and training for FLHWs for prioritizing essential activities and postponing non-essential ones.

Frontline health workers might experience stigmatization, isolation and be socially ostracized. Psychosocial support, non-performance-based incentives, additional transport allowance and child-support, and awards and recognition programs should be instituted.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: Nothing noted.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.