The Connect Project aimed to provide evidence on mechanisms to accelerate the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. The project, implemented in partnership with the Mailman School of Public Health, the Government of Tanzania and its Ministry of Health, and local research institutions, worked with local government partners to introduce a paid Community Health Agent (CHA) who provides education, preventive and curative services in rural villages.
Additionally, the project supported local government health systems to improve referrals from communities and primary health care centers to hospitals in cases of health emergencies.
The two core interventions, introducing a formal community health worker cadre (CHAs) and strengthening emergency referral systems, were health systems development activities for strengthening the continuum of care from household and community through the levels of service delivery. The activities were designed to recognize the complexity of the health system and draw upon the health system pillars as defined by the World Health Organization. This project was conducted in three rural districts where community-based healthcare and outreach services have not been developed- health and demographic surveillance systems allowed evaluation of impact on mortality. The research demonstrated the CHAs' impact on newborn and child deaths and provided evidence on practical, sustainable ways to support these workers and improved emergency referral systems.
Equally important, the project worked to increase local capacity to conduct associated research. including statistical and qualitative analysis methods and scientific writing. And, because the public health education system remains weak in Tanzania, the project is working to develop a new school of public health in the country.