African Health Initiative

Phase 1: Tanzania PHIT Partnership

The African Health Initiative (AHI) seeks to catalyze significant advances in strengthening health systems by supporting partnerships that will design, implement and evaluate large-scale models of care that link implementation research and workforce training directly to the delivery of integrated primary healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. This page summarizes one of five Population Health Implementation and Training (PHIT) Partnership projects that are being supported through the African Health Initiative.

The Tanzania Connect Project

Grantee Institution:

Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

Team Leaders:

  • James F. Phillips, Ph.D.
    Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health
  • Ahmed Hingora, M.Comm.H.
    Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre

Project Summary:

The Connect Project is led by the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) with technical support from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health and the Tanzania Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH). In Tanzania, health worker shortages pose a critical barrier to health service accessibility at the village level, despite the fact that the majority of Tanzanians live within five kilometers of a health facility. Quality and cost of primary health care further inhibit service utilization. To address this problem, the IHI is collaborating with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and local governments on a six-year experimental trial of community health service development aiming to strengthen the continuum of care from home to hospital, and effectively reduce deaths among mothers in childbirth, newborns and children under age 5. Tanzania's plans were inspired by Ghana's strategy for training health extension workers.

The two core interventions of the Connect Project are to introduce a new cadre of workers, known as Community Health Agents (CHAs), and to strengthen emergency referral systems. CHAs provide educative, preventative and curative services in villages. The CHAs are being deployed to 50 villages, selected at random from a total of 101 villages in Tanzania's Rufiji, Kilombero and Ulanga districts (population over 400,000). The project is additionally supporting local government health systems to improve referrals from communities and primary health care centers to hospitals in cases of health emergencies.

The three intervention districts will provide Connect with detailed mortality and morbidity data to be used in the impact evaluation component of the project.

For more information, please visit The Connect Project website.