Africa: Accelerating Investment in Community Health Workforce Programs in Africa

press release

Recently, the Africa CDC participated in the first-ever COP28 Health Day in the United Arab Emirates on the sidelines of the Reaching the Last Mile Forum. The event aimed to renew the commitment to invest in and support professional community health workers (CHWs), who are essential frontline health workers.

The Africa CDC is thus pleased to announce that several partners, including the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), Africa Frontline First, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, PEPFAR, the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID, and UNICEF, have renewed and strengthened their joint support for community health workers. This is a significant step towards improving healthcare services in Africa and ensuring that CHWs receive the necessary support to carry out their duties effectively.

During the meeting, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia, said, ''Throughout my life, and especially as president of Liberia, I have seen the destructive darkness that disease outbreaks can bring to a country. I have also witnessed the reviving light that community health workers can bring to a devastated nation. Today's commitment represents a strong step forward in our journey to inspire hope, save lives and bring health to all.''

The commitment builds on growing momentum for community health, partners committed to collective and coordinated investments and affirms governments' leadership role in setting health priorities, including the Africa Frontline First Catalytic Fund, the African Union's commitment to recruit 2 million community health workers, the Africa CDC's New Public Health Order, the Community Health Delivery Partnership and the Monrovia Call to Action. The announcement further encourages a call to action for other partners to join the momentum to scale community health programs in alignment with the Africa CDC Continental Community Health Coordination Mechanism (CCHCM).

''Strong community health systems in every community are essential to provide accessible, quality, and cost-effective prevention and treatment services, including in emergencies,'' said Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director General of the Africa CDC. ''The collective commitment we join today represents our citizens' health, well-being, and security. We welcome the support of our partners and invite others to join us as we walk towards a healthier future for all.''

The Global Fund, in particular, announced funding of US$900 million for the next three years, 74% of which will be invested in African countries. The additional funding will complement the contribution of other partners supporting community health worker programs.

''Community health workers play a crucial role in enhancing prevention, detection, and response to outbreaks, as well as maintaining HIV, TB and malaria services for rural and hard-to-reach populations,'' said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. ''Our increased commitment to supporting them is key to continue building resilient and sustainable systems for health and saving lives.''

CHW programs are underfunded with a $4.4 billion annual funding gap, and community health financing suffers from severe discoordination. They focus on specific diseases and have competing priorities. This leads to inefficient investments and under-supported systems. This status quo also undermines governments' agenda and reinforces the lack of political prioritisation and insufficient domestic resources for community health.

Africa CDC is therefore leading the conversations and efforts to get the commitment and accelerated mobilisation of funding from all partners to align to the continental coordination mechanism for the institutionalisation, integration, and sustainability of community health workforce programs.

The leadership of Africa CDC and, indeed, the Africa Union Commission welcome this ground-breaking commitment at the COP28 in Dubai and express our appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the Chief Executive Officer of Reaching the Last Mile and all partners for making this commitment.

About Africa CDC

Africa CDC is a continental autonomous health agency of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their general health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats based on science, policy, and data-driven interventions and programmes. For more information, please visit:

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