JOURNAL ARTICLE

The selection and training of primary health care workers in Ecuador: issues and alternatives for public policy

K R Mangelsdorf
International Journal of Health Services: Planning, Administration, Evaluation 1988, 18 (3): 471-93
3170061
This article employs quantitative analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the community health worker (CHW) training program used by the Ministry of Public Health in Ecuador. The study first assesses CHW knowledge in the areas of prevention, maternal-child health, first aid, and treatment of common illnesses. The analysis reveals that CHWs retained less than 50 percent of what they learned one year after graduation. Demographic factors accounted for some variance in performance. Higher levels of community organization were associated with improved CHW knowledge. The presence of a health committee was also an important factor. The second phase of the study was designed to assess the community impact of the program. Surprisingly, neither the demographic characteristics of the health worker nor his or her level of competence affected the impact of the program on the community, as measured by patient satisfaction, utilization indices, and adoption of preventive health behaviors. It was the characteristics of the beneficiaries themselves that accounted for the variance in community impact. These results yield some important implications for public health policy in Ecuador.

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