This qualitative study investigates practical strategies used by global humanitarian health workers involved in developing community health centers via international partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). SSA has been a growing focus area for humanitarian medical work since the mid-1800’s due to its pervasive medical system deficiencies, resource scarcities, and health disparities. Global humanitarian groups dedicate significant financial and human resources to SSA, but there is need to understand how to best invest these resources to improve access to comprehensive, essential health services. A number of expatriate health workers have partnered with locals to create community health centers (CHCs), yet little is known about these initiatives. This qualitative study provides an initial investigation into the strategies of these individuals. The researcher performed semi-structured interviews of four expatriate health workers involved with creation of CHCs in nine SSA countries to analyze their perspectives. Common themes from the narratives were then extracted. Key ideas that emerged include the importance of relationship-building, local leadership, strategic assessment and planning, local advocacy to the government, assembling a well-balanced team, addressing the unique challenges of expatriates, and comprehensive community development. In summary, expatriate health workers have successfully partnered with local communities in a number of SSA countries to create CHCs to expand access to primary care. These initiatives represent one way that global humanitarian personnel can contribute to expanding access to essential health services in developing nations, and future studies are warranted to expand understanding of this topic.
Gerber J. International Humanitarian Efforts to Establish and Sustain Community Health Centers in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Qualitative Study from the Perspectives of Expatriate Health Workers. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2019; 1(1).
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