Use of Lay Health Workers in a Community-Based Chronic Disease Control Program


The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in the developing world, and in particular diabetes,cancer and circulatory diseases, is an unfortunate fact of life. At the same time infection-related diseases, includingsexually transmitted HIV-AIDS and HPV-dependent cervical cancer, remain important. One approach toalleviating the resultant stress on national health provision is to expand the knowledge base at the communitylevel with contributions by lay health workers (LHWs). Here we take a brief look at the available literature andpropose a model for intervention incorporating two way dialogue with the general populace to find effectivemeans to package expertise in the medical/research community for lay consumption. Our argument is thatparticular attention should be paid to socioeconomic and behavioural aspects and to disease surveillance at thelocal level in order to be able to accurately assess the impact of interventions. For this purpose, we need tomarshal volunteers from within communities taking account of their problems and motivations. Included areprovision of assistance in setting up physical exercise programs, quit tobacco campaigns, alcohol awarenessprograms, running disease screening exercises and general help by providing advice as to risk and protectivefactors and clinical treatments, with an especial focus on palliative care.