Frontline health workers are trusted, knowledgeable health personnel, who belong to the communities they serve. They are well accepted and relied on by the communities and form the central pillar of effective health systems key to reducing preventable deaths and achieving universal health coverage. They are the foundation of disease intelligence essential to efforts to eliminate diseases and prevent disease outbreak. However, against such important roles and proven cost effectiveness in achieving health outcomes, they are among the most neglected cadre of health workforce in Africa and other parts of the world. They are poorly equipped and remain exposed to disease risks, and except in few countries, receive inadequate training, lack supervision and career development. In addition, they work as unpaid volunteers. Where they have been well recognized and supported to perform their roles, they have proven to be effective, affordable and reliable in achieving health outcomes. We share examples of success stories and important lessons that poor access to health services is not strictly linked with low economic level, but rather reflects a lack of political will and determination by leaders to protect their most vulnerable populations. We urge governments to enshrine health as a fundamental human right in their national constitutions and invest in Primary Health Care by build an army of Frontline Health workers capable of preventing diseases and outbreaks at source, hence saving money for developmental activities and education. We need louder voices to advocate training and maintaining of frontline health workers, especially in resource limited countries.
Andrew Yona Kitua