Arch Iran Med. 2018;21(12): 566-571.
PMID: 30634853
Scopus ID: 85059888564
  Abstract View: 627
  PDF Download: 536

Original Article

Evaluating the Women Health Volunteers Program in Iran- a Quarter Century Experience (1992–2016)

Behzad Damari 1, Sahand Riazi-Isfahani 2 *

1 Neuroscience Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
*Corresponding Author: Sahand Riazi-Isfahani, MD; Assistance Professor of Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Tehran, Iran. Address: No 70, Bozorgmehr Ave, Tehran, Iran. Cell: +98 9123341559; Telefax: +98 21 62921338; Email: sahand1000@gmail.com


Background: Running for more than 25 years, the Women Health Volunteers (WHV) program in Iran has made many great achievements. Considering the new expectations from the health system, this national program needs to be revised and undergo fundamental changes. Although many studies have been conducted to evaluate this program, there still is a lack of a comprehensive nationwide assessment containing policy recommendations.

Methods: This study was conducted in a qualitative approach. The data were obtained from 3 sources: national documentations, semi-structured questionnaires by 49 key informants, and focused group discussions. The program was assessed in 4 domains including the program, goals, achievements, improved opportunities (weaknesses), and strategies for improvements.

Results: The collected data were categorized into 4 main themes including goals and objectives, achievements, weaknesses, and recommendations. Main achievements of the WHV program are: increasing people’s participation especially women, increasing health literacy, and increasing coverage and utilization of health services. The most important weaknesses of the program include: lack of a national roadmap and policy plan for the WHV program, lack of true belief in people’s participation in policymakers, weakness in comprehensive system monitoring and evaluation, and inadequate funding.

Conclusion: Like many other health system programs in the country, the WHV program suffers from the lack of a binding strategic plan and goal so that by changes in management, sustainability of the program becomes hampered. An appropriate solution would be to operate the WHV program like a non-government organization (NGO) under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME). 

Keywords: Iran, Organization and Administration, Program evaluation, Volunteers
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Submitted: 03 Jun 2017
Accepted: 07 Oct 2018
ePublished: 01 Dec 2018
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