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How community health workers dramatically improve healthcare

The Atlantic, February 5, 2014

Community health workers have helped Ethiopia reduce child mortality by two-thirds since 1990 and death from malaria, a common disease, by 55 percent. Since their deployment, contraception use among women—from longer-lasting injections to daily birth control pills—has doubled from 15 to almost 30 percent in six years. More than 8,000 miles away in Williamson, West Virginia, 34-year-old Samantha Runyon visits about 15 homes a week to check blood sugar levels and teach people with diabetes how to deliver insulin injections. The nurse, who works in the rural coal mining town where she grew up, is part of a team of four other "patient navigators" at a local nonprofit, the Diabetes Coalition.