On November 3, 2021, Living Goods formally launched its new 5-year Strategic Plan: Country Led, Digitally Enabled Community Health: The Next Five Years, using it as a launching point for engaging key partners in a robust dialogue about the future of community health. By 2026, the strategy plans to support five African governments on their journey to increase access to high-quality digital-enabled community health care and drive improved health outcomes for at least 18 million people by supporting 32,000 community health workers (CHWs).
The online launch event on November 3 was attended by more than 350 representatives from government, research institutions, donors, and implementing organizations. The strategy focuses on the next frontier of impact: enabling government partners improve health outcomes nationally, by ensuring CHWs can reach their full potential. “We recognize this plan is bold, and we’ve purposely set targets. We know we are going to be tough to achieve. So this means we must be humble moving forward, and we have more to learn, but the problems are so urgent and so systemic that we feel this is the best way to achieve true lasting impact,” said Liz Jarman, CEO of Living Goods, in her opening remarks.
Dr. Diana Nambatya Nsubuga, Regional Deputy Director for Policy and Advocacy at Living Goods, moderated the first discussion on what effective government leadership in community health looks like. During the session, leaders from African governments and norm-setting institutions shared their thoughts on how to drive national impact through sustainable community health systems. Dr. Herilinda Temba, Medical Epidemiologist at Africa CDC, urged partners to support governments integrating community health into their national approaches to primary health care. Dr. Gregory Ganda, County Executive Committee Member for Health Services, Kisumu County, Kenya, highlighted the importance of interlinking other social determinants with health platforms. Dr. George Upenytho, Commissioner of Department of Community Health at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, shared the significance of partner’s support in advocating the institutionalization of community health in Uganda. Dr. Patrick Singa Muhoza, Living Goods’ Country Lead for Burkina Faso, underlined the need to shift the gear towards public health prevention.
Representatives from the donor community, including Seb Meaney, Head of Sovereign and Private Sector Engagement at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Anthony Gitau, Director of Global Community Impact Sub Sahara Africa at Johnson & Johnson, and Minnie Kibore, Senior Manager of Child Health & Development (Africa) at Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), conferred on the most significant opportunities to improve community health over the next five years. The speakers collectively agreed that the pandemic showed vividly the vital role CHWs play in the health system. They asserted that CHWs need to be continuously supported to execute their essential duty effectively and efficiently.
Pape Amadou Gaye, President Emeritus of IntraHealth International and Living Goods Member of the Board, gave his reflections on the strategy and emphasized the importance of the primary health care. “We all know that a good house is built on a very strong foundation and a strong foundation of a health system is the primary health care system,” said Pape.