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New health financing initiative in Africa aims to build back better from COVID-19

Publication date

Washington, DC - May 12, 2022 - Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a coalition of global partners today announced Africa Frontline First, a new community health financing initiative, alongside the Global COVID-19 Summit. Building Africa's community health workforce is essential for ending the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing future pandemics, and achieving universal health coverage. Africa Frontline First will grow the community health workforce across 10 African countries, professionalizing 200,000 community health workers by 2030.

"The legacy of COVID-19 must be robust and resilient primary healthcare systems with community health workers as the backbone. Together, we are building the coalitions of actors required to make bold reforms and build back better for the COVID-19 response, and beyond,” said Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia.

Coalition members Financing Alliance for Health, Community Health Impact Coalition, Community Health Acceleration Partnership, and Last Mile Health are assembling diverse partners–including governments, multilateral institutions, regional political organizations, technical experts, and philanthropic funders–to build strong community health systems with 10 African countries.

“Africa needs two million additional community health workers to serve its population. The partnership between the African Union COVID-19 Commission and the Africa Frontline First initiative will increase our health workforce to improve access to community-based care. These health workers are needed to implement primary health care as part of universal health coverage,” said His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.

Despite the proven value of community health programs, the annual financing gap for community health in Africa alone reached $4.4 billion in 2020, contributing to millions of preventable deaths. Africa Frontline First Initiative will deploy new funding mechanisms to build resilient community health systems and achieve lasting impact.

“The time for transformative financing for primary health care systems at the community level is now. Africa Frontline First is our opportunity to increase funding while reducing its fragmentation and to strengthen, at scale, resilient and effective systems that will reap health, economic, gender, climate, educational dividends and more,” said Angela Gichaga, Chief Executive Officer of Financing Alliance for Health.

Community health workers trained, equipped, and salaried through Africa Frontline First will provide life-saving primary care, expand critical surveillance for emerging disease threats, and accelerate economic recovery in hard-to-reach communities across Africa. A professional community health workforce provides dignified jobs, especially for women, who make up 70% of the global workforce and currently subsidize health care by an estimated $3 trillion annually through their unpaid and underpaid work.

“My call for action is to pay community health workers, count community health workers, protect community health workers, and professionalize community health workers,” said Margaret Odera, Community Health Worker Advocate in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information on Africa Frontline First, visit:

For media inquiries, please contact: Francisco Rodriguez, Last Mile Health
Tel: +1-857-347-9107 | Email: