Who They Are

The backbone of effective health systems.

Simply put, without frontline health workers, there would be no health care for millions of children and their families in the developing world.

At a baby clinic in Ethiopia, 3-month old Hailu is weighed, vaccinated and given vitamin A by a frontline health worker. Photo by Jenny Matthews for Save the Children.

Frontline health workers are the backbone of effective health systems – they are often based in the community and come from the community they serve, they play a critical role in providing a local context for proven health solutions, and they connect families and communities to the health system.

Frontline health workers are those directly providing services where they are most needed, especially in remote and rural areas. Many are community health workers and midwives, though they can also include local pharmacists, nurses and doctors who serve in community clinics near people in need. They are the first and often the only link to health care for millions of people, are relatively inexpensive to train and support, and are capable of providing many life-saving interventions.

Frontline health workers provide immunizations and treat common infections. They also help families identify conditions which require higher levels of care and provide a link to that referral care. Families rely on these workers as trusted sources of information who have valuable skills in preventing, treating and managing a variety of leading killers including diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. Frontline health workers are also increasingly critical to addressing diseases like diabetes and heart disease that impact the health and productivity of adults around the world. Primarily women, they have become a true force for good, revered in the communities they serve.

Simply put, without frontline health workers, there would be no health care for millions of families in the developing world. The new Frontline Health Workers Coalition is urging greater and more strategic investment in frontline health workers. The longer we wait, the more lives we will lose, and the opportunities for improved health, higher education levels, economic growth and prosperity will be squandered.