Original Research

Community healthcare worker response to childhood disorders: Inadequacies and needs

Shanturi Naidoo, Deshini Naidoo, Pragashnie Govender
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1871 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v11i1.1871 | © 2019 Shanturi Naidoo, Deshini Naidoo, Pragashnie Govender | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2018 | Published: 30 April 2019

About the author(s)

Shanturi Naidoo, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Deshini Naidoo, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Pragashnie Govender, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Community healthcare workers (CHWs) play a vital role in linking health facilities and communities where there is a high prevalence of childhood disorders. However, there is limited literature on whether this cadre of workers is adequately prepared for this task.

Aim: This study explored the training needs of CHWs working in the field of childhood disorders and disabilities to improve the future training of CHWs and service delivery.

Setting: This study was conducted in an urban district in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: This qualitative study used purposive sampling to recruit 28 CHWs and 4 key informants working in health facilities in one district of the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Interviews were conducted in the first language (isiZulu) of the CHWs. Data were analysed thematically. Ethical clearance was obtained from a Biomedical Science Research Ethics Committee.

Results: There was an evident lack of knowledge and skill in managing childhood disorders and disabilities by CHWs. Enablers and restrictors affecting service delivery were highlighted. Moreover, the training needs of CHWs have raised critical concerns because of the variable nature of training and perceived inadequate preparation for service delivery. The challenges raised were also generic to the holistic role of CHWs and not particularly specific to the CHW role in childhood disorders and disabilities.

Conclusion: Training of CHWs in childhood disorders may assist in improving CHWs’ competence and confidence in the field, which may enhance service delivery and thus may assist in contributing towards improving healthcare for children at this level of care.


community health care workers; childhood disability; primary health care


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Crossref Citations

1. Community health workers and health equity in low- and middle-income countries: systematic review and recommendations for policy and practice
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International Journal for Equity in Health  vol: 21  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1186/s12939-021-01615-y