Pro Mujer’s Community Health Workers Support COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts in Bolivia

More than 115 Pro Mujer community health workers offer health screenings for attendees at mass COVID-19 vaccination sites.

To help support the well-being of people in Bolivia, Pro Mujer’s community health workers are offering health screenings at local COVID-19 vaccination sites, including weight and height measurements, body mass index (BMI) calculation, diabetes risk tests, blood pressure tests, measuring waist circumference, and counseling on issues, such as nutrition, high blood pressure, and diabetes, among others. These screenings are offered at COVID-19 mass vaccination sites for residents in Santa Cruz, La Paz, Tarija, and Potosí.

Eulalia Gira Calvetti decided to become a community health worker because there was no health center near her home in Rancho Norte, a small town located in the Department of Tarija, in southern Bolivia. In San Julián, in the eastern part of Bolivia, Fátima Cheneby became a community health worker because she wanted to help her mother, who suffered from chronic headaches. Thanks to her training, Fátima learned how to measure blood pressure and worked with health experts to diagnose her mother with high blood pressure.

These two women have found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia and are now offering health services to community members at mass COVID-19 vaccination sites.

“I’ve taken care of people with severe cases of COVID-19 in their homes because they were too scared to go to the hospital,” said Cheneby.

These screenings have helped diagnose multiple cases of high blood pressure, as well as identify people who are overweight and obese, which has become more common in Bolivia, particularly within the context of the pandemic.

“[These screenings] are important because the majority of elderly people avoid going to local health centers because they’re afraid they’ll contract COVID-19,”shared Eulalia. “Offering screenings to these communities allows us to diagnose cases of hypertension and diabetes, as well as identify patients that are overweight, and make referrals to health centers for follow-up care.”

The community health workers program trains women leaders from communities across Bolivia so that they are able to provide preventive medical care and health education, with a focus on rural communities that have limited access to health care services.

According to data from the Pan American Health Organization, chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity kill more than 5.5 million people in the Americas, with 2.2 million of these deaths occurring in people under 70 years of age.

At the beginning of 2021, Pro Mujer trained more than 120 community health workers, who have implemented 12,420 screenings this year to date. More than 2,200 of these screenings have been conducted as part of Bolivia’s mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign that started in July.

“The community health workers program empowers women who use their leadership to positively benefit the health of their peers and their communities,” said Gaby Quispe, Health Manager of Pro Mujer Bolivia. “Empowering people to take control of their health is one of the best ways we can make an impact as an organization, particularly during the pandemic. The commitment of the nursing staff who trained our community health workers is now seen in these women, who are providing preventive health information, guidance, and screenings at mass vaccination sites throughout the country. The community health worker program clearly shows that we are better together.”

Pro Mujer is committed to empowering women to take control of their health and is proud of the community health workers who are working alongside health care professionals to support health outreach initiatives and provide preventive health services.