Urban Community Health Workers in Afghanistan
Building strong relationships and trust between community health workers and the communities they serve prior to public health emergencies can help ensure continuity of health seeking behaviors during times of crisis. When health services dropped during COVID-19 lockdowns, women community health workers increased services 25%.
Health-seeking significantly decreased during COVID-19 lockdown due to fear of contracting the virus, and
many of the health posts in CHWs homes were shut down at this time. In contrast, CARE-supported urban CHWs,
particularly in Kabul and Balkh, were able to continue service provision in their homes due to the strong trust
they had built with the communities they served and their recognized leadership among community members
and as part of the health system. The relationship between CHWs and local communities was complemented by
CARE’s efforts to quickly provide CHWs with personal protective equipment and build capacity on WHO
protocols for COVID-19 screening, detection, and referral of cases as well as risk communication and
community engagement. During COVID-19 lockdown, the CHWs also continued provision of SRH, GBV services,
and referrals to midwives at community-based health centers run by CARE. In addition to maintaining service
delivery, the CHWs also began offering counseling and support to local women using mobile phones.