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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2007 Jul-Sep;8(3):457-61.

Use of lay health workers in a community-based chronic disease control program.

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Cancer Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Bangkok Thailand 40002.


The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in the developing world, and in particular diabetes, cancer and circulatory diseases, is an unfortunate fact of life. At the same time infection-related diseases, including sexually transmitted HIV-AIDS and HPV-dependent cervical cancer, remain important. One approach to alleviating the resultant stress on national health provision is to expand the knowledge base at the community level with contributions by lay health workers (LHWs). Here we take a brief look at the available literature and propose a model for intervention incorporating two way dialogue with the general populace to find effective means to package expertise in the medical/research community for lay consumption. Our argument is that particular attention should be paid to socioeconomic and behavioural aspects and to disease surveillance at the local level in order to be able to accurately assess the impact of interventions. For this purpose, we need to marshal volunteers from within communities taking account of their problems and motivations. Included are provision of assistance in setting up physical exercise programs, quit tobacco campaigns, alcohol awareness programs, running disease screening exercises and general help by providing advice as to risk and protective factors and clinical treatments, with an special focus on palliative care.

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