Lay health workers in primary and community health care for maternal and child health and the management of infectious diseases
Citation: Lewin S, Munabi‐Babigumira S, Glenton C, et al. Lay health workers in primary and community health care for maternal and child health and the management of infectious diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010; (3): CD004015
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on health systems and healthcare workers. One way to ease this may be to make greater use of community or lay health workers (LHW).
In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for randomised trials evaluating the effects of LHW interventions in primary and community health care on maternal and child health and the management of infectious diseases. They did their most recent search in February 2010 and identified 55 trials from high-income countries (many of which focused on low income and minority populations), 12 trials from middle-income countries and 15 trials from low-income countries. There is also a linked Cochrane Review of qualitative evidence for factors influencing the implementation of LHW programmes. A summary of the implementation considerations identified is available here.
What works: LHWs provide promising benefits in promoting immunisation uptake and breastfeeding, improving TB treatment outcomes, and reducing child morbidity and mortality when compared to usual care.
Health planners could consider including LHW interventions as components of health service strategies in these areas.
What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.
What’s uncertain: The effects of using LHWs for other health issues are uncertain.
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