For decades, community health workers (CHWs) have played a pivotal role in communities worldwide, providing or facilitating access to health care and resources for patients who otherwise have limited contact with health systems or face complex obstacles to achieving better health. CHWs' responsibilities vary widely across settings and may include diagnostic, preventive, or curative services; referring patients to clinical providers; advocating for and helping providers better understand and respond to patients’ needs; and connecting patients and their families to social and economic resources.
When deployed effectively, CHWs have the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs. Multiple efforts are underway to leverage and scale this potential. Earlier this year, TED Prize winner and Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi announced plans to launch the Community Health Academy, a global platform to “train, empower, and connect” CHWs. This and other initiatives to amplify the impact of CHWs have tremendous promise to change the persistent reality that, in Panjabi’s words, “Illness is universal, but access to care is not.”
During this weeklong GHDonline Expert Panel, panelists and participants will explore what it takes to build an effective, sustainable, and scalable CHW program. Topics will include community health worker recruitment, training, supervision, and integration into health systems and teams; program design; the roles of research and evaluation in optimizing CHW programs; and adaptation of programs across settings. Please join us to share your expertise, questions, and resources. We look forward to hearing your thoughts across the discussion threads below!
GHD is grateful to the Rx Foundation for its generous support of this panel. Many thanks to our panelist team for stewarding the discussion.