By: Laymah Kollie
Congo Town-January 17,2023: Liberia will on March 20-24, 2023 host the 3rd edition of the International Community Health Workers (ICHW) symposium in Monrovia.
The Symposium aims to facilitate the global exchange of knowledge and solutions to scale and sustain Community Health Programs in order to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). It will focus on sharing best practices on the complimentary and necessary systems to support scale.
The Symposium which is held every two years, is also intended to provide an opportunity for advocacy of host country and other nations for investment into its Community Health Program and the health system in general.
This year’s event will be Under the theme “Advancing Community Health Worker Programs to Build Resilient and Equitable Health Systems that Accelerate Primary Health Care for Universal Health Coverage”.
Addressing a major Press Conference, Health Minister Dr. Wihelminah Jallah noted that the event is critical and will be built around the Astana Declaration and the African Union’s call for 2million community health workers with key emphasis on pandemic preparedness and Response.
Minister Jallah outlined that successes of the National Community Health Program (NCHP), CHA and a new National Community Health Policy are key pillars Liberia is expected to be put forth during the five days event.
She pointed out the conduction of 8.9 million home visits by Community Health Workers including 551,951 pregnancy visits; treated 905,184 childhood cases of Malaria, Pneumonia, Diarrhea, and 1.2 million screening for Malnutrition cases; provided 446,388 women with access to family planning services, and referring over 355,000 pregnant women for Antenatal care and facility base delivery at the same time identified and reported about 7,106 potential epidemic events excluding COVID-19 as major prospects of the National Health Program.
“Since its launch in 2016, our National Community Health Program has not only transformed our healthcare delivery system but also increased access to quality and affordable care to the doorsteps of our rural communities. Despite many health system challenges, the National Community Health Program has contributed to an increase in access to essential health services; as of December 2022, CHAs have increased equity in access to health services, reaching more than 70% of Liberia’s remote rural population of 1.5 million; 25% of all positive diagnoses of malaria by Rapid Diagnostic Tests are now done by CHAs at the community level since 2018; between 2018-2022, there was a 50% increase in confirmed malaria cases, highlighting the role of CHAs; as of December 2022, a total of 619,233 cases of malaria, 182,560 cases of pneumonia, and 122,110 cases of diarrhea were treated by CHAs, while 1,193,865 children under five have been screened for malnutrition and referred by CHAs.”
However, Dr Jallah appreciated local, national and international partners for immense effort applied to have a successful symposium in March 2023. “The approach to the main event will be guided by a global agenda that focuses on global best practices exchange, community health financing, CHW program institutionalization, and emerging evidence and innovations. There will be an opening ceremony and plenary session followed by a series of corresponding sessions of presentations, panel discussions, and plenaries as well as marketplaces for posters presentations, institutions engagement, sponsorship, and sales by accredited local vendors. The event will climax with a closing ceremony followed by an awards night for honoring key stakeholders and Community Health Workers from Liberia and other countries.
With the collaboration and cooperation of the Ministry of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance Development Planning, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, General Services Agency, Liberia National Police and Liberia Immigration Services, and all our supporting partners, we are confident to host the 3rd International CHW Symposium on March 20 – 24, 2023”, Minister Jallah noted.
According to the Minister, the occasion will commence with a two day pre-conference and three days’ main event activities. The previous two CHW Symposia was held in Uganda 2017 and Bangladesh 2019 as well as the Institutionalizing Community Health Conferences (ICHC 2017, and 2021).
The conference is expected to bring together delegates from 40 countries in every region of the world with 600 delegates including high-level government officials from other nations, some UN Agencies, the Africa Center for Disease Control, development partners, Community Health Champions, Community Health Workers, Researchers, and foreign missions accredited to Liberia.
Delegates participation in the ceremony will be through a hybrid method; meaning, specific number of participants will be by invitation while a considerable number of others will be by abstract applications. There will be two-day pre-conference activities centered around country engagement; creating the space for experience sharing and collaborations amongst the Community Health Roadmap Countries, the Global Fund NFM4 application engagement, and any partner who may want to have pre-conference meetings or workshops.
The event is organized by Golden Touch Liberia, a Liberian business Coporation situation in Liberia.