Health Worker Training
We strengthen health systems in a way that's sustainable by building the capacity of health workers at all levels: community health workers, clinical officers, nurses, midwives, and more.
Leap, the mobile-learning platform
Using pioneering mobile technology to train frontline health workers at scale.
Addressing TB and malaria
Building on our long-term partnership with GSK to address high rates of tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Amref Health Africa's vision is of a world where everyone, everywhere, has access to high-quality and affordable healthcare.
Sustainable Development Goal 3 commits the world to ensuring “healthy lives and [promoting] well-being for all at all ages”. To make that vision a reality, UN Member States have agreed to work towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. UHC means that everyone, everywhere should be able to access high-quality healthcare that does not leave them struggling financially. It is based on the belief that health is a human right: that where a person lives should not determine how long, or how well, they live.
What challenges is Africa facing when it comes to health?
One of the biggest health challenges facing low- and middle-income countries is a chronic shortage of trained health workers operating in communities, where they are within easy reach of the people who need them. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) was estimating that the global shortage of health workers (doctors, nurses, midwives and more) is likely to reach 18 million by 2030.
A third of that shortage – 6 million health workers – will be in Africa alone.
Sixteen countries in the region have less than one health worker for every 1,000 members of the population.* The WHO’s target is 10.9 health workers per 1,000 members of the population. Only one country in sub-Saharan Africa meets this target.
* 'Africa's shortage of health workers is acute and profound, with only one country in the region having the required [number of] health workers (10.9 per 1,000 population) to deliver essential health services'. Read more here
Barriers to Health
What does this mean for healthcare in Africa?
Every missing health worker results in hundreds of people who are going without the care they need: whether that’s a young woman expecting her first baby, a teenager with questions about contraception, or a frontline worker who’s finding the pandemic is taking a toll on his mental health.
What’s more, there are huge discrepancies between the distribution of health workers in urban and rural areas: this means people in remote regions are more likely to have to travel long distances in search of care, often at considerable personal expense.
Why is the gap so wide?
Historic under-investment means that health workers in many African countries are under extreme pressure. A lack of training opportunities coupled with low wages, difficult working conditions, and strained resources – like a shortage of personal protective equipment, or an electricity supply that cuts out during surgery – can discourage people from entering the health workforce in the first place, or lead them to leave.
Impact of Covid-19
The gap has been widened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO estimates that, worldwide, at least 180,000 health workers have lost their lives to COVID-19, with many more leaving their professions due to stress, burnout, or fear of contracting the virus. Global shortages have further undermined the continent as wealthy countries facing health worker crises have recruited aggressively from lower-income nations, many of them in Africa.
There is an urgent need to strengthen Africa’s health workforce by training and supporting health workers across the continent.
What is Amref Health Africa doing to help?
Amref Health Africa’s goal is twofold:
- to ensure the healthcare available to people in Africa is of a high quality, and
- to ensure that care is delivered by health workers who are trained, who have the equipment and support they need, and who are sufficient in number to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
To meet these goals, we:
- Provide community-based volunteers with tailored training and up-to-date information that they can access through their mobile phones, even when reception is patchy.
- Train midwives and nurses to deal with complicated cases and provide the highest standards of pre- and post-natal care.
- Provide tailored mental health support for health workers facing stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout – particularly relevant in the COVID-19 context.
- Upgrade health facilities, installing solar panels to ensure that clinics always have light and running water, setting up waste management and recycling systems, building or refurbishing laboratories, and creating dedicated spaces for confidential conversations.
- Conduct outreach campaigns so that people know how and where to access care. We pay particular attention to the most marginalised individuals, communities, and groups.
- Work with communities to remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing care: whether those barriers are related to cost, logistics and geography, cultural constraints, limited awareness or information, or stigma and discrimination.
- Support decision-makers across the continent, training them in leadership, management and governance to ensure they’re making smart and sustainable decisions on resource allocation.
- Advocate – at global, regional, and national levels – for increased investment in health systems and health workers.
In short, we close the gap between people and services, bringing high-quality healthcare closer to where people live and work.
“In many places, the lack of health workers tested the resilience of fragile health systems under stress. Data have demonstrated that decades of progress have been lost, and inequities perpetuated and accelerated across the globe. Africa knows this story well.”
Voices: hear from some of the health workers we support.
Catherine Aanyu, midwife
Catherine Aanyu is a 26-year-old midwife from Katakwi, a small town in Eastern Uganda. She's currently building her skills through Amref Health Africa's eLearning programme.
Violet Boonabana, midwife
Violet Boonabana was raised by her aunt, a midwife, in Kampala. Growing up, Violet would admire the way her aunt cared for the women in their community. "She made me love and respect the profession," she says. "She showed me how rewarding it is to watch a mother leave the hospital with a healthy, happy baby."
Margaret Kilonzo, Community Health Worker
In March 2021, Amref Health Africa hosted a virtual event to give supporters a window into our work. The star of the show was Margaret Kilonzo, a Community Health Worker (CHW), who was born, raised and continues to work in Kibera, Nairobi: Africa’s largest informal settlement.
Jemimah Makau, midwife
Jemimah has been a midwife at Emali Model hospital in Makueni County, Kenya, since 2011. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way women in Makueni have deliveries, and Jemimah fears for the women in her community.
[Photo credits: CHW Dorothy visiting pregnant mother at home (c) Gregg Telussa; CHW Community Outreach Total Health Project, Okalu Cwan Village, Amuru District Uganda (c) Ambrose Watanda; CHW, Kibera, (c) Brian Otieno; Community Health Workers Vaccine Solidarity, Kibera (c) Brian Otieno; CHW spreading health information on car speaker (c) Kevin Gitonga].