This article originally appeared on Gavi’s VaccinesWork website. Below is an excerpt.
The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine has encountered issues with equitable access and vaccine hesitancy globally. In many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) these challenges are compounded by severe health worker shortages that further hinder achieving the WHO COVID-19 vaccination targets.
However, in Malawi the primary cadre of community health workers (CHWs), known as Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs), have been meeting these challenges head-on for decades.
HSAs have been administering routine vaccinations since the 1950s, and were formally included in the Malawi national health system in 1998. In fact, Malawi is one of only 20 countries that deploy CHWs to administer vaccines. Therefore, when COVID-19 vaccines came to Malawi, the government quickly organised training for HSAs so they could better serve their communities, not just through COVID-19 outreach and education, but also through COVID-19 vaccine administration.
Read the full article to learn about the country’s experience using CHWs and how deploying CHWs as vaccinators could both increase COVID-19 vaccination in LMICs, as well as address declines in routine vaccination among children.