This review article explores the various definitions and descriptions of CHWs in the literature. It also identifies common themes in these definitions to better understand the essential characteristics of health workers classified as CHWs and to distinguish them from other healthcare providers. By describing the various categories of CHWs, this resource helps to clarify the use of the term to ultimately aid key stakeholders in community health program planning, policy, and research.
The emerging field of mobile health (mHealth) consists of interventions that apply cellular phones and other mobile devices for healthcare purpose such as data collection, clinical decision support, self-care, and CHW management. This rapid expansion of mobile communications systems represents an opportunity to improve the productivity of community health workers in rural areas.
In Madagascar 83% of the country’s 22.9 million people live in rural areas that can be difficult to access. CHWs play a crucial role in providing access to healthcare in those parts of the country that are underserved. Over 34,000 CHWs work to extend basic health services such as maternal and child health, family planning and reproductive health, nutrition, TB, and sanitation services. This study seeks to examine the influence both financial and non-financial incentives have on CHW program performance and retention in Madagascar.
An evaluation of trauma-informed support, skills, and psychoeducation interventions provided by CHWs on depressive symptoms, dysfunction, post-traumatic stress, traumatic grief and anxiety symptoms was conducted in the northern Dohuk region of Kurdistan Iraq. Recruited community health workers included pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants without any prior formal mental health training.
In 2015, the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign and mPowering Frontline Health Workers (mPowering) conducted a series of interviews and held an online discussion, hosted on the Healthcare Information for All forum, on the need of improved data on community health workers (CHWs) to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Demonstrating that a health service, such as providing contraceptive implants, can be safely task shared to less highly trained workers is crucial but is only one step toward effective implementation at scale. Providers need dedicated time, enough clients, supplies, supervision, and other system support, allowing them to maintain their competency, confidence, and productivity.
Humanitarian crises are often marked by large-scale, externally funded, and vertically managed responses. National health systems, already weak, are often bypassed by international organizations in the interest of rapid response to save lives. There is growing recognition, however, of the importance of employing more sustainable approaches through existing health system infrastructure to ensure services continue as the emergency subsides and organizations and their resource flows end.