Community-based health and first aid (CBHFA)

Community-based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) is an approach developed in cooperation with national Red Cross organisations in which the communities assess their own needs and reach their goals through combined efforts.

Indicators of success could be considered the extent to which the local community assumes ownership of its own programme and how large an influence a change in health behaviour has on the lives of people.

In a CBHFA programme, a start-up and final survey are carried out with standardised tools in order to measure the change.

The Finnish Red Cross has actively participated in the development of the CBHFA since its creation alongside other national organisations.

The approach was later expanded to extend beyond just health and first aid programmes and mobilised volunteers to work in their own environment. Based on experience, we have learned that a local volunteer knows the life, people, language and culture best. Surveying the needs of the community and reaching goals is much more sustainable when the work is carried out on the spot and from within the community.

“We take the core strength of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent and place it at the centre of the entire programme. Instead of working for communities or with them, we work directly from within the communities. Over the years, we have grown to be an organic part of communities in all parts of the world”, says Hannele Virtanen, healthcare advisor with the Finnish Red Cross.

The Red Cross started community-based first aid training in the 1990s. Now, some twenty years later, the approach is used much more comprehensively in health work as well as in work aimed at improving disaster preparedness and food security projects, among others. Health can, however, never be separated from development cooperation programmes as it is always inherently bound in the concept of development.

CBHFA helps to build healthier and safer communities and to strengthen the system of volunteers. A community in good form is able to specify its development needs better than a vulnerable community struggling with crises.

As cooperation grows stronger, so do the capacities of local Red Cross organisations as well as their ability to prepare for and respond to crises.  
Volunteer manual for Community-based health and first aid in action (CBHFA):