Original Research

The roles of community health workers in management of non-communicable diseases in an urban township

Lungiswa P. Tsolekile, Thandi Puoane, Helen Schneider, Naomi S. Levitt, Krisela Steyn
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 6, No 1 | a693 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v6i1.693 | © 2014 Lungiswa P. Tsolekile, Thandi Puoane, Helen Schneider, Naomi S. Levitt, Krisela Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 April 2014 | Published: 21 November 2014

About the author(s)

Lungiswa P. Tsolekile, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Thandi Puoane, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Helen Schneider, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Naomi S. Levitt, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Krisela Steyn, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Background: Community health workers (CHWs) are increasingly being recognised as a crucial part of the health workforce in South Africa and other parts of the world. CHWs have taken on a variety of roles, including community empowerment, provision of services and linking communities with health facilities. Their roles are better understood in the areas of maternal and child health and infectious diseases (HIV infection, malaria and tuberculosis).

Aim: This study seeks to explore the current roles of CHWs working with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Setting: The study was conducted in an urban township in Cape Town, South Africa.

Method: A qualitative naturalistic research design utilising observations and in-depth interviews with CHWs and their supervisors working in Khayelitsha was used.

Results: CHWs have multiple roles in the care of NCDs. They act as health educators, advisors, rehabilitation workers and support group facilitators. They further screen for complications of illness and assist community members to navigate the health system. These roles are shaped both by expectations of the health system and in response to community needs.

Conclusion: This study indicates the complexities of the roles of CHWs working with NCDs. Understanding the actual roles of CHWs provides insights into not only the competencies required to enable them to fulfil their daily functions, but also the type of training required to fill the present gaps.


Keywords

Community Health Workers, roles, Non-Communicable Diseases, urban township

Metrics

Total abstract views: 4121
Total article views: 8241

 

Crossref Citations

1. Community Health Workers in Diabetes Prevention and Management in Developing Countries
Halimatou Alaofè, Ibitola Asaolu, Jennifer Ehiri, Hayley Moretz, Chisom Asuzu, Mobolanle Balogun, Olayinka Abosede, John Ehiri
Annals of Global Health  vol: 83  issue: 3-4  first page: 661  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2017.10.009