This is the fourth of five technical briefs on the theme of community engagement, that draws on the results and lessons learned from the PRRINN-MNCH programme. This particular brief focuses on working with volunteers to improve maternal, newborn and child health. The key messages are:
Volunteering is a valuable asset, putting local knowledge, skills, dynamism, creativity and a concern for others to good use.
- Well designed and managed community volunteer programmes can be effective and sustainable, with benefits that extend beyond the health sector.
- Programmes that help volunteers to address the social determinants of health complement health services and medically trained health providers. The concept of a ‘community health team’ is gaining traction in Northern Nigeria.
- Finding the best ways to reward community volunteers is vital in high poverty contexts. Communal rather than individual incentives may protect the volunteer effort and provide an alternative to putting volunteers on salary.