Anne Lee, MD, of BWH’s Department of Pediatrics, has spent the past 5 years working in rural Bangladesh helping train local non-medical community health workers to recognize signs of prematurity in babies born at home, and to strengthen the referral process of these high-risk babies for hospital-based care. Now, she is seeking the support of the BWH community in a funding competition through the “Saving Lives at Birth” program in an effort to continue to build upon their work as her and her team was selected as finalists to compete in Washington DC at the end of July.
One would think the process of delivering a baby would be a universal procedure, with physicians and nurses following the same steps for each patient. However, after traveling to Senegal, BWH’s Rebecca Luckett, MD, MPH, PGY3 resident in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, had the chance to experience firsthand the challenges associated with providing clinical care outside of the United States. In an effort to step outside of her American resident self, Luckett entered a place where she did not have every amenity and test at her fingertips, shifting her outlook and gaining a new perspective on the system in which she would be working.
Raj Panjabi, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity, has set out to make health care more accessible to those living in the world’s most remote villages by reconstructing the model of the Community Health Worker (CHW). Over 1 billion people worldwide go their entire lives without receiving any degree of medical care, and Panjabi recognized the need for an improved health care system that reaches rural communities.
In 2007, Panjabi founded Last Mile Health, an organization dedicated to closing the health care access gap through a redesigned and improved CHW program. By professionalizing CHWs through a stringent 5 step process that involves lengthy training, testing and incentivized salary, Last Mile Health is able to serve remote villages through a knowledgeable and fully equipped workforce that is more efficient and effective than the traditional model. The goal is to achieve universal access to care by 2030, a project that seems daunting but is quite possible if health systems focus on and invest in community health worker performance.
Read more about Last Mile Health in this piece by the Huffington Post.