Ethics and professionalism of a community health worker: A virtue ethics approach

Ajith Kumar P, Sudharshini Subramaniam
Submitted: October, 2022

Community health workers are the link between the community and the health system, delivering primary care services at the frontline. Every profession has its own ethics and professional values, and there is a need to formulate the ethics of community health work which should be informed by their rich experiential wisdom. In one such effort, we interviewed a senior community health worker in the Tamil Nadu health system and present it here as a virtue ethics case study. Several situations of ethical conflict arising in her work, and her process for resolving these conflicts were discussed during the interview. The worker discussed some ethical principles: doing good, not doing any harm, maintaining justice, being honest, providing respectful care, maintaining self-respect, being accessible, earning the community’s trust, and building solidarity. This interview confirms the assumption that ethics and professionalism are inherent in this community health worker, and emphasises the need for systematic research to document the experiences of such frontline workers, and to frame relevant standards of ethics and professionalism in the local context.

Resource Type:
  • Peer Reviewed
  • Medical Ethics
  • Professionalism