Pakistan's Lady Health Worker Programme
Global Health Workforce Alliance, World Health Organization, Case study
This case study describes the rationale, implementation strategies, achievements and challenges of a programme that created a new cadre of female health workers in the Pakistan health system to address unmet health needs of rural populations and slum dwellers.
An external evaluation of the programme in 2000 found that the population served by Lady Health Workers had substantially better health indicators than the control population. It was estimated that 150,000 Lady Health Workers are needed to cover the country. By the end of 2006, there were 96,000 in the system, with another 14,000 to be trained through an extension of the programme to 2008.
Coverage remains however imbalanced, partly because in some areas the entry-level qualifications are too high, resulting in few or no candidates. Adjustments to entry criteria, and careful targeting of underserved and poor areas, are being considered as the programme expands.