Community-Led Health

Community-led health centers communities as change-makers

Lwala unlocks the potential of communities to advance their own comprehensive well-being. Our community-led health model rests on four pillars: professionalized community health workers (CHWs), community committees, health facilities, and data. This model underscores our central belief: when communities lead, change is lasting. 

Professional community health workers

CHWs are the caregivers of their communities. Yet CHWs are often under-equipped and under-supported, and only 14% of CHWs in Africa are salaried. At the same time, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), have provided health services to communities for generations, but they are often blocked out of CHW cadres by discriminatory literacy and education requirements. 

Lwala is committed to professionalizing CHWs. We work with government to ensure they are paid, trained, supervised, and digitally enabled. We also incorporate TBAs into government CHW cadres. 

Professionalizing CHWs unlocks the door for more accessible, higher quality health services. It’s also an issue of gender equity–more than 70% of CHWs worldwide are women. 

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Community health committees

When it comes to improving health, Lwala believes that communities should be in the driver’s seat. We work within existing structures, like community health committees (CHCs), and strengthen their capacity to transform health care. CHCs identify health-related challenges affecting their community, work with CHWs and health facilities on creative solutions, and hold government accountable. CHCs are key platforms to elevate women’s leadership. 

When women are fully represented on CHCs, they can ensure that health services reflect the needs of women and girls.

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Health facilities

When people receive high-quality, dignified care, they are more likely to return again and again for lifesaving services. By rebuilding trust in health facilities, we can improve health outcomes. 

Across a network of partner facilities, Lwala brings together community members, facility-based health providers, and CHWs. We work with these groups to conduct biannual assessments, which identify areas of progress and priorities for improvement. Armed with this information, facility teams develop and implement improvement plans, review outcomes, and make adjustments–ultimately improving the quality of health care.

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Data

Lwala is committed to collecting high-quality, timely data, conducting rigorous research, and using what we learn to inform our programs, as well as government policy. We partner with leading universities to evaluate our programs and build the evidence base for community-led health. 

Additionally, Lwala-supported CHWs use digital tools to monitor their caseload, track individual health outcomes, and receive decision support in real-time. This ensures that illnesses are identified early, and no one slips through the cracks. 

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Transforming traditional birth attendants into champions of skilled delivery

“Being a traditional birth attendant, we didn’t have a lot of things to help mothers. We worked barehanded without protection. If there was difficulty, hospitals were not near for help so it often led to death. Getting trained as a community health worker affected my life greatly – we were told the dangers of giving birth outside of the facility, and it reduced the mortality of the women and the babies.”

– Leah, one of Lwala’s first community health workers, and a former traditional birth attendant.

Agency, health, and wholeness of life.

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