Thursday and Friday (July 24-25) of this week were spent in the classroom and making home visits. Although some of the Lay Community Health Workers conducted health assessments, others engaged neighborhood women in breast health education or conducted breast exams. Again, the health workers were amazing. They were in the homes educating women, a focal point of primary health care, or instructing these persons to do breast self-exams. These visits will continue into the coming week.
A couple of other activities took place on Friday. A meeting was held with Dr. Martin from the Health Minister’s Office, representatives of the District Health Council, and the project team. The thrust of this meeting was how to integrate the health workers into the prevailing health system, while gradually introducing a move toward primary care. Basic to this model is the idea that health providers do not wait for patients to appear at their offices, but intervene actively in a community to inaugurate early identification, prevention, and education. According to the Alma Ata Conference, held in 1978, primary care is the only method that will improve health care in developing countries. This meeting was very productive. Specifically, everyone present seemed to value the role of community health workers and their potentially positive impact on the health of persons in Grenada.
Friday afternoon was devoted to training the Lay Community Health Workers in primary health care and the function and operation of a community health committee. John Murphy and Karen Callaghan took the lead at this time. As part of this instruction, the health workers conducted their first meeting. Their styles of communication and interaction, for example, were examined and critiqued. The purpose of this feedback is to improve their ability to organize a meeting.
In terms of primary health care, this health committee is essential. With the Lay Community Health Workers as the primary point of entry to the health system, the committee becomes the way to interface with other health professionals. In addition to a vital means of mutual support and information sharing, this committee becomes the collective voice of a community. Such a committee enables persons to have control over their health care, while promoting community solidarity.
During the coming week training continues, while a focus group is organized to assess the implementation of this project. This information will be used to shape future training. Additionally, Sunday, July 27th, the health workers will graduate. A ceremony is planned for Sunday afternoon around 4pm. A hundred persons might be present, including several dignitaries. With respect to health care, this day is quite significant. The first cohort of lay community health workers will begin to operate in Grenada.