Community Health workers cost-effective?


19 June 2014

KIT Health, together with Queen Margaret University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine conducted a research on the cost-effectiveness of community health workers in low- and middle income countries. Recently, the research results were shared at a side event at the 67th World Health Assembly in May 2014 in Geneva.

Value for money?

There is significant evidence showing community health workers can be effective in delivering essential health care, but policy makers are faced with the dilemma whether community health workers programmes represent good value for money. Because of this dilemma, a research was conducted to find our whether community health worker programmes in different settings are cost-effective. This research is important, because in many low and middle income countries community health workers form the first point of contact for communities on all health related issues. Because of a lack of human resources for health, community health workers get more and more responsibilities.

Previous studies

The existing evidence in the literature suggests that using community health workers in health programmes can be a cost-effective intervention in some settings, particularly for tuberculosis, with less strong evidence but reasonable justification of cost-effectiveness in malaria and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Other health areas have been documented less well.

Yes, if….

The economic model developed by the research team and based on case studies conducted in Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia found that, under the assumptions made and notwithstanding some limitations inherent to both availability of data and model design features, community health worker programmes in contexts where they operate within an integrated team supported by the health system have a high likelihood of being cost-effective.

The study has nearly been finalized and a report and three papers from this project, one led by KIT Health and the others with substantial input of KIT Health, will be published soon.


Download Paper: ‘Community Health Care: Bringing Health Care at Your Door’

Sponsored by

This project was made possible with funding from the UK Department for International Development via the Global Health Workforce Alliance.