PSFs (Promotor Saúde Familiar/Family Health Promoter) are volunteer Community Health Workers in Timor-Leste. They deliver health promotion, refer sick community members to healthcare facilities, and support national health program implementation. They address preventable causes of disease, through educating their community on healthy behaviours. They sometimes make the crucial link between their community and the national healthcare facilities.
MT’s Communication Officer Leao had a chance to sit down with Lucas Morais to find out more about the impact of Maluk Timor’s training of Family Health Promoters (PSF) on Atauro Island, some 25 km’s north of Dili..
Lucas has been a nurse on Atauro Island for over two decade. He works at the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Atauro Villa and is in charge of Surveillance and is also the Non-Communicable Diseases Coordinator. He is well respected, trusted and loved within the community.
In the old days, the work we did at the CHC was all about curing patient; we didn’t focus on prevention or health promotion within the community.
We were excited about having the opportunity of working together with Maluk Timor and the Women’s Health and Social Care (WHSC) Team. They came to train 40 PSF on women’s health and social issues. The training focused on prevention, health promotion and learning about how to deal with issues like domestic violence.
We have been working together with Maluk Timor for five years and I have really seen the benefits and successes of the training of the PSF volunteers. I am so proud of the volunteers as they are close with the community; it is like they are the ears, eyes and voice of the community. They witness a problem and they help the people with the health issues.
The PSF would encourage someone who is sick to go the CHC and encourage them to be proactive about this – to have a closer relationship with the CHC and to visit them when they were not well.
Another added bonus is the PSF liaise with the CHC to inform about health issues that are happening in the community; and how to deal with a particular health issue that is arising, this helps us to be prepared for things that may arise quickly
The second thing that makes me really proud, is that while we have the human resource of the PSF, we didn’t have the capacity to train them. But the WHSC Team, would cross the sea in a boat and come and give us training. They would come every three months! And the volunteers take the training and their role seriously and really make an effort. They don’t just sit around – they get out into the community and do their job. It’s funny, sometimes the PSF encourage the Healthcare Workers (HCW) to work harder and make a bigger effort in the community – and they by working together they will have a greater success.
Our PSF volunteers are amazing, they are part of the village – they are part of the community. They are already there – if they see there is something happening in the community, they contact the HCW and make them aware of the issue.
In the past, there was no one to do these things – sometimes maybe the Chief of the Village, or Church leader could help – but now we have active and proactive Health volunteers. The PSF presence in the community is bringing some really tangible health outcomes. I can see the difference. I’m so excited about this project – I just love seeing positive change happen. Its real and its happening before my eyes.