Abstract: Analyzing the Role of Community Health Extension Workers in Providing Health Services to Low Health Communities Domestically and Abroad

Many barriers stand in the way of the efficiency of the US healthcare system; one such barrier is access. Education levels, income, race, and gender make up but a few of the potential barriers between an individual in need of medical attention and the proper means by which it is attained. This fact explains why urban areas cite some of the highest health disparities, why Baltimore, Maryland’s John’s Hopkins University medical school is one of the highest ranked but the community in which they serve has some of the country’s worst health outcomes. Barriers abound. These barriers are not negligible, but rather we pay for them in the cost of human lives. With my research, I plan to use the actions taken by international healthcare systems in bridging the gaps of access, to inform ways in which the US healthcare system can better serve its communities of constrained resources. Namely, I plan to look at, and analyze, the role of the community health extension worker in low health communities around the world and determine if the introduction of the community health worker in the US serves to potentially aid in bridging the health disparity gaps that we face in our own healthcare system.

Additionally, I will be analyzing health outcomes and disparities in countries like Ethiopia and Bangladesh, before and after community health worker influence and taking note of their roles in assisting primary healthcare providers. From this, I will mark the advancements and note the factors to said advancements as they pertain to the overall health of the communities. Knowing how the service of community healthcare workers has, or has not, helped in the overall health of the analyzed countries will provide a metric by which I can compare the rates of disparity in US low health communities, which are facing similar issues of access. I intend to conclude by charting the potential progression of the US healthcare system given the introduction of well trained community health workers. I aim to create a concise analysis of the extension service and a justification of how the role can be mutually beneficial to both the community and the system once it is adopted, professionalized, and properly funded.

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