The Role of Community Health Workers in the Mongolian CBR Programme
Purpose: This article aims to present the role of community health workers in the implementation of a comprehensive CBR Programme in rural Mongolia, and to explore the main challenges that arise in this specific geographical and socio-economic context.
Methods: Qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews with CBR workers from three selected provinces; short meetings and interviews with respective provincial level CBR coordinators complemented the information acquired. Additionally, a workshop with national level CBR stakeholders was carried out in order to review and discuss the findings.
Results: The study highlighted a number of practical barriers (including long distances and lack of transportation, low population density, and harsh climate conditions) which constrain the work of community health workers in the areas studied. In relation to disability, the study shed light on the difficulties found by community workers in shifting from a medical approach to disability to a new approach that emphasizes prevention and rehabilitation. Exploring interviewees’ experience in the five areas of CBR (health, education, livelihood, social, empowerment) the authors found that working in the areas other than health is perceived as difficult due to insufficient training as well as objective contextual barriers.
Conclusions: Despite many challenges, CBR represents a significant improvement for disability action in rural Mongolia. In this context, the local community health workers are well suited and willing to act as CBR workers; nonetheless, more training and some tailoring work to adapt the Programme to the context is needed if all potential results are to be achieved.
Limitations: This study did not include direct observation of CBR activities or consultation of beneficiaries and other stakeholders. Their involvement and consultation would certainly improve the understanding of all the issues raised.
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