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Community and informal care providers at the heart of universal health coverage in sub-saharan africa: A position paper

Globally, increased demand on often scarce healthcare resources and those challenges incumbent in responding to the coexistence of infectious and non-communicable diseases warrant the need to address persistent health inequities. Understanding the complex intersectionality of vulnerability and reaching those in most critical need of healthcare lies at the heart of fostering and sustaining resilient healthcare systems. Harnessing the long-recognised value of Community and Informal Care Providers (CICPs) is instrumental to Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The present COVID-19 context serves as a poignant example of where access to formal healthcare services by many has become increasingly difficult. Here, the value of informal or volunteer-led health services has been a lifeline for many. For several decades, formal reportage has evidenced the established role of CICPs, particularly across Sub-Saharan Africa with quantifiable efficacy across a number of domains, such as, maternal and child health, neglected tropical disease prevention, tuberculosis care and malaria control. CICPs have been sustainable and effective as a conduit between the formal and informal health sectors, and between health facilities and the remotest of communities. Maximising the function of CICPs relies on socio-culturally, geographically sensitive, and bespoke support; psychosocial, practical, and logistical capacitation coupled with situationally and culturally appropriate monitoring and evaluation. The Astana Declaration highlights the centrality of building on existing knowledge, insight and resource. We therefore argue that CICPs are indispensable in Africa’s move towards UHC, and hold promise for acceptable, accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare to everyone who needs to get, be and stay healthy. 

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Jacobs Publishing House
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South Eastern European Journal of Public Health
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