Exploring the role of community health organizations in promoting public health during a health crisis: a qualitative study of COVID-19 responses in South Africa and Zambia

Glob Health Promot. 2024 Mar;31(1):65-74. doi: 10.1177/17579759231205854. Epub 2023 Nov 1.


While the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the need for accurate and actionable health information, uncertainty and the proliferation of misinformation have contributed to significant mistrust in public health messages, especially among marginalized communities. Community health organizations can play an important role in creating trust and providing targeted health information to vulnerable groups. This qualitative study, which is focused on community health organizations supporting vulnerable populations in South Africa and Zambia, finds that during the pandemic, community health organizations expanded their roles and leveraged their established access and trust to support the communities they serve with health education and services. However, the reliance on external support limits the organizations' ability to respond in an effective and efficient manner during health crises.

Keywords: COVID-19; community health organizations; health education; health information.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Public Health*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Zambia / epidemiology