Online Program

Role of community health workers (CHWs) in vital events tracking

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Erin Nichols, PhD, MPH, Insternational Statistics Program, CDC/National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD
Henry Perry, MD, PhD, MPH, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Michael Humes, MPH, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Anne Liu, MS, MSPH, Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD), Columbia University/Earth Institute, New York, NY
Functioning civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems provide essential input for health planning and evaluation. However, an estimated 1/3 of global annual births and 2/3 of annual deaths are not legally recognized in CRVS systems. Where coverage is poor community health workers (CHWs) can serve as agents to track vital events. This panel describes global CRVS system improvement efforts focusing on the role of CHWs and using vital statistics to improve health. We explore challenges in linking vital events data into national CRVS systems by reviewing activities of multiple CHW programs, including: the CORE Group Polio Eradication Initiative, various NGO child survival projects, and emerging national community-based surveillance systems. We also review work from the Institute for International Programs at Johns Hopkins University (IIP-JHU) to assess accuracy, reliability, and completeness of reporting events for real-time mortality monitoring in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, and Mali. With video footage of CHWs in action, we then learn about Millennium Villages Project's (MVP) groundbreaking mHealth software used by CHWs to track health information and conduct verbal autopsies (VAs) to determine cause of death. Multiple programs have demonstrated that CHWs are an ideal asset for improving CRVS system coverage while providing local areas with real-time health information for planning and improvement. With vital events tracking support by CHWs, CRVS systems can provide the opportunity for civic engagement in health issues, enabling involvement of local leaders, small populations, and program managers in the cause of reducing maternal and child mortality with accurate means of measuring progress.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain the importance of civil registration and vital statistics systems globally and the role community health workers (CHWs) have in achieving good coverage of birth and death registration; Identify two tools used by CHWs in the Millennium Villages Project to track vital events and conduct verbal autopsies; Describe three barriers to achieving good accuracy, reliability, and completeness of vital events reporting; and List three strategies for connecting vital events data from CHWs into national CRVS systems.

Keyword(s): Community Health Promoters, International Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an epidemiologist on the vital registration improvement project in the CDC/National Center for Health Statistic's International Statistics Program. For this project, we provide training, technical assistance, and guidance for operational research to improve coverage of birth and death registration and quality of cause of dath information.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.