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Depiction of Health. 2022;13(Suppl 1): 43-54.
doi: 10.34172/doh.2022.15
  Abstract View: 57
  PDF Download: 9

Community Involvement and Intersectoral Collaboration in Health Care System

Original Article

Each Home as a Health Post Program and the Role of the Health Messengers and Health Volunteers in the COVID-19 Epidemic Management and Control

Fereshteh Faghihi 1 ORCID logo, Alireza Raeisi 2 ORCID logo, Jafar Sadegh Tabrizi 3 ORCID logo, Seyed Hossain Vasegh 1 ORCID logo, Aminda Amanolahi 1 ORCID logo, Babak Farrokhi 1 ORCID logo, Mohammad Assai-Ardekani 4 ORCID logo, Mohammad Eslami. 1* ORCID logo, Saeed Namaki 5 ORCID logo

1 Center for Primary Health Care Network Management, Deputy for Public Health, Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
2 School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical sciences, Shiraz, Iran
3 Tabriz Health Services Management Research Center, School of Management and Medical Informatics, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
4 Former Senior Advisor for Minister of Health and Medical Education, Senior Expert in Health System Development, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
5 School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical sciences Tehran, Iran
*Corresponding Author: Email: meslami@behdasht.gov.ir

Abstract

Background. COVID-19, caused by a new beta-coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, started in China in late December 2019. Its outbreak was officially announced in Iran on February 19, 2020. The official report of the virus spread throughout the country was announced in mid-March 2020. While expanding the coverage of the “Each Home as a Health Post” program, universities gathered and trained health messengers and health volunteers with the educational content “A Guide to Live with COVID-19”.

Methods. This study is a cross-sectional descriptive study. The sampling method was the census method. The required data were extracted using the integrated health system and the portal of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education’s Primary Health Network Management Center. They were analyzed using descriptive and analytical statistical methods.

Results. The numbers of household health messengers and health volunteers were 11134290 and 280619, respectively. The highest total number of health volunteers and health messengers with 824803 people were in Shahid Beheshti University and the lowest with 7088 people in Gerash. Households with health messengers were 11656389, covering 50.1% of Iranian households. The national average score of trained messengers in the COVID-19 training course was 79.2%. In 22 universities/colleges, 100% of the health messengers passed the COVID-19 training course.

Conclusion. Implementing the “Each Home as a Health Post” program has effectively controlled COVID-19 spread by increasing awareness and promoting self-care in the community. Health messengers and health volunteers were the essential elements of the “Each Home as a Health Post” program. They identified and referred patients to selected COVID-19 centers, improving care and services such as interceptions and support.

Keywords: COVID 19, Health Messengers, Health Volunteers, Community Health, Centers

Extended Abstract

Background

COVID-19, caused by a new beta-coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, started in China in late December 2019. Its outbreak was officially announced in Iran on February 19, 2020. In mid-March 2020, the Ministry of Health reported that the virus had spread throughout the country. To control and manage COVID-19, attracting public participation using the “Each Home as a Health Post” program was seriously considered. In this regard, additional activities were done to draft and train community volenteers including family health messengers and nehgiberhood health volunteers. Universities were also required to expand program coverage, prioritizing the training of all family health messengers and health volunteers with the “A Guide to Live with COVID-19” training content.The Ministry of Health has added a new class of service delivery to the country’s primary health care delivery system, which lies before the health houses and health posts. This program was implemented to expand the community participation in providing, maintaining, and promoting health as a comprehensive solution to simplify health communication in the country and was able to achieve valuable results in the health field. According to this program, for each household, one person from each family who has sufficient knowledge, intelligence, skills, and acceptance was appointed as the health messenger. The training was provided in three fields: health promotion and prevention, primary treatment, and rehabilitation. The “A Guide to Live with COVID-19” educational content was compiled and made available to medical universities in the “Each Home as a Health Post” training program. The training of most household health messengers and health volunteers was conducted based on this training package.This study was conducted to assess the influence of the “Each Home as a Health Post” program and the role of health messengers and health volunteers in the Management and Control of the COVID-19 Epidemic.

Methods

This cross-sectional descriptive study looks at the role of health messengers and health volunteers in managing and controlling the COVID-19 Epidemic from February 2018 to September 2021. The data were collected using the Integrated Health Information System data and the Ministry of Health and Medical Education’s Network Management Center portal. According to its thematic area, the statistical population of this study includes all Health Messengers and Health Volunteers active in the country’s 63 universities and medical schools, which are active in the executive units of the country’s primary health network during the implementation of the National Mobilization Plan against COVID-19. In addition, the sampling method was the census method. The data were analyzed and reported using comparative tables and graphs using descriptive statistical methods. Excel, Access, and SPSS softwares were used to prepare the report.

Results

The numbers of household health messengers and health volunteers were 11134290 and 280619, respectively. The highest total number of health volunteers and health messengers with 824803 people were in Shahid Beheshti University and the lowest with 7088 people in Gerash. Households with health messengers were 11656389, covering 50.1% of Iranian households. The national average score of trained messengers in the COVID-19 training course was 79.2%. In 22 universities/colleges, 100% of the health messengers passed the COVID-19 training course. The University of Mashhad has the lowest coverage with 4.6% of household health messengers. The highest number of messengers and health volunteers in interception teams were in Zanjan University (41349) and Ardabil University (40470). Torbat Jam, Isfahan, and Khoy universities had the lowest number. The highest number of messengers and health volunteers are in support teams in Ardabil, with 32308 people. The lowest number of messengers and health volunteers (per population) are from Zahedan, Abadan, Dezful, Jahrom, Babol, Sirjan, Kerman, Shushtar, Khomein, Sabzevar, Khoy, and Isfahan medical universities.

Conclusion

Implementing the “Each Home as a Health Post” program has effectively controlled COVID-19 by increasing awareness and promoting self-care in the community. Health messengers and health volunteers were the essential elements of the “Each Home as a Health Post” program. They identified and referred patients to selected COVID-19 centers, improving care and services such as interceptions and support. Increasing the number of health messengers and health volunteers and strengthening and educating them in performing the role of tracking and patient support has a significant effect on preventing the spread of the disease. Strengthening health messengers and health volunteers will increase awareness, responsibility, capability, structured and active participation of individuals, families, and communities in providing, maintaining, and promoting health and comprehensive health care.

Practical Implications of Research

In general, according to the present study results, social participation and community cooperation in self-care and family has a significant impact on disease management and control and will cause maximum use of health system forces to provide more specialized services. Dealing with such diseases is impossible without the close cooperation of society. Social participation is the conscious, voluntary, and purposeful participation in social affairs to facilitate social development. Therefore, it is suggested that health system policymakers consider using health messengers and health volunteers.

Ethical Considerations

In this study, secondary data and aggregate reports were used and no intervention was performed.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest in the present study and this study is the result of an independent study.

Aknowledgment

This research summarizes the measures taken in line with the plan of each home as a health post and the role of health messengers and health volunteers in the management and epidemic of COVID-19 control. The authors consider it necessary to express their gratitude and appreciation to all the people who participated in implementing this project and the compilation of related documents. We would like to thank all the health care providers in the fight against coronavirus.

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Submitted: 04 Oct 2021
Revision: 23 Oct 2021
Accepted: 27 Oct 2021
ePublished: 14 Mar 2022
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