Lay health workers in primary and community health care for maternal and child health and the management of infectious diseases

Added April 6, 2020

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.

 

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.

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