DOI: 10.3390/ijerph20176675 ISSN:

Task-Shifting: Can Community Health Workers Be Part of the Solution to an Inactive Nation?

Estelle D. Watson, Shabir Moosa, Dina C. Janse Van Rensburg, Martin Schwellnus, Estelle V. Lambert, Mark Stoutenberg
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Background: In low-to-middle income countries (LMICs), there is a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) placing strain on the facilities and human resources of healthcare systems. Prevention strategies that include lifestyle behavior counseling have become increasingly important. We propose a potential solution to the growing burden of NCDs through an expansion of the role for community health workers (CHWs) in prescribing and promoting physical activity in public health settings. This discussion paper provides a theoretical model for task-shifting of assessment, screening, counseling, and prescription of physical activity to CHWs. Five proposed tasks are presented within a larger model of service delivery and provide a platform for a structured, standardized, physical activity prevention strategy aimed at NCDs using CHWs as an integral part of reducing the burden of NCDs in LMICs. However, for effective implementation as part of national NCD plans, it is essential that CHWs received standardized, ongoing training and supervision on physical activity and other lifestyle behaviors to optimally impact community health in low resource settings.

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