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Table 2 Description of major roles of community health actors in rural Ethiopia, 2016

From: How do community health actors explain their roles? Exploring the roles of community health actors in promoting maternal health services in rural Ethiopia

Major Themes/roles Sub-Themes/Categories Specific activities undertaken under each role
Promotion of health care services Provision of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC)
Provision of Health Care Services
The most commonly cited role identified by all participants was provision of information, provision of preventive and curative health care services. WDA leaders are good in passing different knowledge on to mothers and members of the community during community meetings, women’s association meetings, antenatal outreach sessions, and coffee ceremony. HEWs, WDA and religious leaders are also participating on community mobilization activities including use of full ANC services, health facility delivery and PNC including the promotion of breastfeeding and child nutrition, immunization, and related matters.
Provision of continuous support Assistance for Health Services
Assistance with social supports
Supporting the Community Referral System
Activities identified as involving such support included assistance with community fund raising, facilitating ambulance services or traditional ambulances to get women to the health center for delivery, providing training for model family/WDA, and offering social support (practical help with routine activities, resources and material goods, emotional support and assurance, nutritional support, and accompaniment).
Work as community - Health Care System Linkage Identification, Registration, and Notification of Women
Training, Supervision and Report
Integrating activities between community leaders, including WDA leaders, religious leaders and HEWs, are all considered to be bridges and enhance strong relationship and communication between HEWs, primary health care units and community members. WDA leaders are well in assisting HEWs in community mobilization, health education, identification, registration, and notification of pregnant women and newborns. This support was also strengthened by training, supervision and monthly, quarterly or yearly reports.
Challenges in promoting safe motherhood in community Challenges from Health System Side
Challenges from community Side
Most participants expressed concerns on the poor quality of MCH services like substandard quality of care, lack of teaching resources, and lack of incentives for undertaking home visits in remote areas were not motivating. Further when these barriers are combined by poor community and men participation and some religious myths, they work as promoters of home delivery and barriers in promoting utilization of MCH services.