The "Home Visitor" programme in maternal and child health
has its roots in the 19th century when public health nurses
and social workers visited homes of poor urban women to provide
health services. Kempe (1976) writing on approaches to preventing
child abuse, advocated the use of health workers to assure
the right of every child to comprehensive health care. He
referred to the existing European system of home visitors
for all newborns and suggested that every pregnant woman has
a para professional worker to work with the family from pregnancy
till school age of the child. A "Home Visitor" in maternal
and child health terms, is a person, professional or para
professional, volunteer or paid who provides a wide variety
of support services in the home eg. social, health related,
educational etc., which are targeted to an individual child,
an entire family unit or the ecosystem.
In the 1980's, para professional home visitor programmes
offered opportunities for expanding pediatric services to
mothers, children and families. These services include social
support (which is difficult to provide in most clinical settings),
liaison between the health care personnel, the family and
community and involvement with direct socio economic issues
affecting the well being of child and his family.
The importance of home visitor programmes
Chapman and colleagues (1990) listed a number of factors
in the last decade which called for collaboration between
different professionals working with children and families:
1. Child health with its current developmental perspective
is synonymous with "maternal-child health".
2. The concept of morbidity encompasses psychological, emotional,
social, behavioral and environmental factors in child health.