Community health workers (CHWs) are often employed to improve health equity, cultural competency, health literacy and access to care, among other issues. Because they have such varied roles, there are many definitions of CHWs; however, they are commonly identified by their in-depth understanding of the population they serve.
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An April 2015 study from the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery1 reveals that five billion people, as many as nine of ten individuals in low and middle-income countries, lack access to safe, affordable surgical care. This affects the poor, marginalized, and rural populations who have limited funds, long distances to care and poor travel infrastructure. If they do reach care, there are often no surgeons or anesthetists, medications, oxygen, or blood.
As a teen, Dr. Alexi Matousek spent summers in Haiti watching surgeons operate in austere conditions, extracting tumors, closing wounds and treating other conditions. It led him to want to be a surgeon and help countries like Haiti address easily treated illnesses before they become fatal.