International Women's Health Coalition Inc.

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
- Community health workers delivering primary health care: opportunities and challenges

Thank you chair.

The International Women’s Health Coalition works to further the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls all over the world. Through our work, we know the value of community health workers in meeting the needs of those most often left behind, particularly women, girls and marginalized groups. WHO’s own evidence is clear that community health workers are particularly effective in delivering sexual and reproductive health services, information & education to communities in ways that best meet their needs. In this regard, they should be empowered and equipped to provide a full range of modern contraceptives, abortion services and basic antenatal care.

Despite their effectiveness, community health workers, most of whom are women, continue to face barriers in carrying out their work. Community health workers must be integrated into national health systems, paid living wages and provided with the training, education, and resources they need in order to deliver health services in a gender-responsive, nonjudgmental and nondiscriminatory manner. Governments must also develop and implement labor laws that support the right to decent work of community health workers, especially women, who often face violations of their rights through discrimination, violence, and harassment.

We are encouraged that the resolution to be adopted at this WHA recognizes many of these elements, but governments must go further. Community health workers are crucial to achieving UHC. They must be fully empowered and supported to play this role.