Our Global Voices Posts
Henry Vandi is a CDC Foundation field employee in the Division of Global Health Protection in CDC’s Center for Global Health
As we approached a house surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation, a petite but muscular woman with a warm smile greeted us on the porch. “Hello! I’ve been waiting for you!” Sampaow said cheerfully, wrapping her arms around Monsasiporn. As Monsasiporn and Sampaow settled at a table outside, they spoke excitedly like old friends.
I am a CDC Foundation field employee visiting a small community two hours north of Bangkok, Thailand with Monsasiporn, a village health volunteer for the Thai Global Hearts Project.
The Thai Global Hearts Project is a one-year pilot program that aims to decrease heart disease and stroke by improving blood pressure control, ensuring people follow treatment advice, and increasing healthy lifestyle choices. A CDC colleague and I were invited by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and the CDC Thailand country office to provide technical guidance on data collection and analysis.
Today Monsasiporn is visiting Sampaow and three other project participants. Along with another volunteer, Monsasiporn checks on nine project participants each month. Village health volunteers provide monthly support, coaching, and education on monitoring blood pressure, tracking medications, maintaining consistent care with providers, and reducing salt intake.
Understanding Healthy Choices
“I wanted to improve health in villages similar to my own,” Monsasiporn explained when asked about why she became a village health volunteer, “with this project, I can help people understand their health and what it means to make healthy choices.”
Village health volunteers participating in the program received training from the program team on hypertension, health promotion, and motivational interviewing.
“When we first started the project, people didn’t understand why their blood pressure mattered, why they needed to take medication or make lifestyle changes when they felt fine. It was just something their doctor told them to do, but they didn’t really get it, so they quickly lost motivation,” Monsasiporn continued.
Primary care doctors in Thailand are extremely busy. However, village health volunteers come from surrounding villages and visit the patients seven times each month. “We can take the time to connect with the patient, explain what their blood pressure numbers mean, and what they can do to improve their health in a way that patients understand.”
Seeing Change Firsthand
When the village health volunteers began their visits, most patients were not tracking their blood pressure. “Talking with patients, we realized they didn’t understand how to take their own measurements and found the tracking forms confusing,” Monsasiporn explained.
So the village health volunteers worked with the project team to provide training and simplify the forms. Once patients were able to measure their own blood pressure and track their data, they began to see the benefits of medication and lifestyle changes on lowering their blood pressure.
“None of our other projects have provided this type of frequent, village health volunteer-supported monitoring before,” commented Dr. Sasamon Srisuthisak, the MOPH’s technical coordinator on the project, “yet it’s proving to be one of the key factors in keeping participants motivated. The home visits and self-monitoring seem to help volunteers, health workers, and patients maintain momentum in this journey toward better community health.”
The MOPH launched the pilot in March 2019. Once complete in March 2020, data from Sampaow’s village will be compared to data from a comparable village not participating in the program. CDC provides support and technical guidance on the program design, data collection, and data analysis.
While formal data for the initiative is not yet available, the project is already showing positive impacts.
Spreading Community Support
As we visited project participants, I was impressed by the incredible community ownership for the project, which seemed to lead to community members feeling increased ownership of their own health.
Sitting on the porch with Sampaow, an elderly neighbor approached. “Oh, blood pressure time!” he exclaimed. “I want my blood pressure checked too!” While not a program participant, Sampaow’s neighbor has become interested in tracking his blood pressure numbers as well.
“We’ve been astounded by the level of support we’ve seen in just the past few months. An intervention like this could not be successful without community participation,” said Dr. Srisuthisak. “The incredible support from the local government—both health and non-health sectors, the village health volunteers, and the community has certainly been a testament to the potential feasibility of scaling up this project.”
If the pilot is successful, the MOPH will likely expand the initiative to additional communities and hopefully make it nationwide in a few years.
WHO Global Hearts Initiative
Thai Global Hearts Project Keeps Communities Heart-Healthy (World Heart Day 2018 story)Posted on by
Many people don’t choose a career path until after college, or even after a few years of working in a particular field. But then, many are not like my former colleague, Dr. William (Bill) Brogdon. Bill first entered the doors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a 17-year-old high school student and Read More >Posted on by
The leading cause of liver cancer worldwide is hepatitis B virus (HBV). Sierra Leone is thought to have a high percentage, at least 8%, of the population actively infected with HBV. Some studies report that in Sierra Leone, 6% to 11% of pregnant women have active HBV infection, which they can transmit to their babies Read More >Posted on by
Protecting Uganda’s Border Vance Brown, Ebola Coordinator and Deputy Director for the Division of Global Health Protection Program in Uganda. Vance and team provide technical support to the Government of Uganda to prevent, detect and respond to especially dangerous pathogens, including Ebola. “It was 8:00 p.m. on a Friday when I got the call. CDC Read More >Posted on by
Conducting a JEE Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a small country in West Africa, neighboring Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. It has a population of over 25 million people, about half of whom live in urban centers across the country. Diseases of great concern for the country include yellow fever, cholera, meningitis, measles, Read More >Posted on by
I went into medicine because I am passionate about helping others. I became an oncologist, a doctor who cares for people with cancer, because it gives me the opportunity to save lives and improve a patient’s health care every day. I practice in Senegal, my beautiful country of origin in West Africa. As a young Read More >Posted on by
“We are measuring the blood pressure of many people who’ve never had their blood pressure measured before,” explains Dr. Dinesh Neupane, the country coordinator for May Measurement Month in Nepal. “When we approach people about being screened, we often hear that they don’t need their blood pressure checked because they feel healthy.” But Dr. Neupane Read More >Posted on by
When a Beninese migrant worker fell ill in Nigeria in December 2017, he decided to return to his parents’ home in Togo for care. His condition deteriorated during his trip through Benin. On his trip he stopped at Tandou Health Center in Tchaourou, Benin, was attended to by two healthcare workers, and continued his Read More >Posted on by
Rasmata Ouédraogo-Traoré PhD is the Chief of the Medical Analysis Laboratory of the Charles De Gaulle Pediatric Hospital, which houses the National Reference Laboratory for meningitis in Burkina Faso, and a professor of bacteriology-virology, medical sciences and pharmacy at the University of Ouagadougou. A concerned mother in Burkina Faso says to me, “I think that Read More >Posted on by
In 2014, WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) became the fourth region, among WHO’s six regions, to be certified as having interrupted all wild polio virus (WPV) circulation. India was the last country to eliminate polio in SEAR, proving that polio could be eradicated in the most challenging settings. Multiple international partners collaborated with Government of Read More >Posted on by