New grant from Rockefeller Foundation to boost the International Growth Centre’s work to strengthen Sierra Leone’s national health system post-Ebola outbreak

A new US $900,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation will support the IGC’s partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone to build a more resilient national health system in the wake of the Ebola crisis.

The grant will enhance the IGC’s ongoing collaboration with the government in revising their national strategic plan for a community health workforce, a cadre of health workers who are trained to provide basic health and medical care in local communities.

The IGC intends to support the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation through direct consultations with researchers, technical experts, and policymakers with experience in community health systems. Through the grant, the IGC also intends to assess the community health worker programme’s impact.

Jonathan Leape, Executive Director of the IGC, expressed how important The Rockefeller Foundation’s grant is to the IGC’s work in Sierra Leone. “This grant contributes substantially towards increasing the resilience of a country shocked and stressed by the Ebola epidemic,” he said. “By building on our ongoing work with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, The Rockefeller Foundation’s support will allow us to more effectively advise on policies that will lead to a stronger health system for the country.”

The IGC also hopes to contribute to the establishment of the Ministry’s national Community Health Worker Hub, which will manage the programme, and the programme’s first cohort of recruited community health workers. It is anticipated that, ultimately, a finalised revised National Community Health Worker Policy will be presented to senior ministry staff.

To accomplish its programme’s goals in Sierra Leone, the IGC will be able to draw upon its research and evidence from other community health worker programmes it has evaluated, such as in Zambia.[i]

“This is a unique opportunity for research,” said Nadia Hasham, an IGC country economist working in Sierra Leone. “Not only are we leveraging previous IGC research and evidence from this and other contexts to inform the policy planning process, but we are also able to support the revised community health worker programme – through generating new evidence on its effectiveness, informing a financing plan, and helping establish monitoring and evaluation systems.”

Sierra Leone has the highest recorded number of Ebola cases of any country affected by the outbreak of 2014, with the crisis exposing fatal weaknesses in its health system. The national government is now looking to address these exposed flaws, which range from low utilisation of health clinics to a limited number of highly trained medical staff able to manage the volume and severity of cases. Rolling out an improved, nationally integrated community health worker programme has been identified as a key focus for delivering enhanced primary health services within the country.

Notes to Editors

[1] An IGC evaluation of a Zambian community health worker programme showed that the successful delivery of public services depends critically on the skills and motivation of workers. Results showed that career incentives play an important role in attracting applicants who are highly qualified, socially motivated, and effective at delivering health services. Furthermore, the two main sources of motivation that attract applicants to these jobs—material benefits in the form of career prospects and intrinsic utility due to helping the community—do not clash.

The Rockefeller Foundation

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. To learn more, please visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org.

This news story originally appeared on LSE News.