In low-resource communities around the world, millions of children continue to suffer and die from preventable and treatable illnesses. Comprehensive community-based health programs successfully address the social stratification, traditional beliefs, and economic barriers limiting the ability of communities to address their health needs and access proven tools such as vaccines. These programs not only achieve excellent health outcomes but are also cost-effective, transformative, and sustainable. They:
- Take a long term view and build local capacity to solve problems
- Emphasize behavior change and preventive care with links to hospital care when needed
- Integrate programs addressing the root causes of poverty through education, livelihood, and water and sanitation
These strategies work because many of the major causes of poor health are things that can be addressed at the community level (e.g., dirty water, malnutrition, social caste, and limited education). They are particularly cost-effective because unnecessary sickness and more costly medical care are avoided with prevention and early detection.