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Thank you and an invitation to continue the discussion

Posted: 17 Jun, 2017     Replies: 6

Thank you all for contributing to what has been a vibrant and productive Expert Panel on Strengthening and Scaling the Community Health Workforce. With 159 posts (and counting!) from participants in 36 countries, this has been one of our most active and diverse Expert Panels. We're grateful to you for following the discussion, sharing it with colleagues, and contributing your questions, insights, and resources. What a generous and inspiring virtual community.

The panel ends today but will remain active for another week, so please continue to post your thoughts and any resources you’d like to share.

Many, many thanks to our panelists for stewarding the conversation and to the Rx Foundation for its support of this effort.

With gratitude,
The GHDonline Team



Ruth MCNERNEY Replied at 3:21 AM, 17 Jun 2017

I am wondering whether it is time to more carefully define the language we use when discussing community health workers. The CHW label is currently used across a broad spectrum and means different things to different people. The needs of a CHW recruited by an international NGO or research organization (eg recruiting for a drug trial) will be different from a grandma who is helping their neighbours in the village care for their children. It would seem that some people consider CHW as an extension of the formal health system, whereas others see them more as a bridge into a community. Often they work to fill in gaps in health care provision which are not filled by the formal healthcare sector due to lack of resources, or because they don't fully understand the needs of the population - both issues that should be addressed through local advocacy.

Unfortunately the nature of this discussion panel precludes participation of the communities we are discussing. Health cannot so easily be separated from the rest of life, (housing, food, clean water, financial security) and if we were to consult the communities we would likely find very different (and variable) opinions on what the role of a CHW should be.

Its a complex situation but when we talk with politicians, donor organisations, and local communities we need to use clear language. We also need to find a way of giving voice to the communities themselves. Sadly there are still some international NGOs and academics who speak about the needs and wants of communities without real understanding.

Should we be using a different name for the 'informal' health care workers appointed by outsiders to work in a community to those individuals that have emerged from a community itself? I don't know the answers but I do think better clarity of the language used might help.

Ashiru Abubakar Replied at 7:09 AM, 17 Jun 2017

This is great, thank you!

Dr. Ashiru Adamu Abubakar

Chevening Scholar 2016/2017
Mandela Washington Fellow (Civic Leadership Track)
Fellow, Maternal Health Young Champion of Harvard school of Public Health
and Institute of International Education, USA
Nigeria's Maternal and Newborn (MamaYe) Hero, 2013

"Surely, the best among people is he who brings most benefits to mankind..."

Bishal K.C. Replied at 8:04 PM, 17 Jun 2017

great effort

Mohammed Qeshta Replied at 1:04 AM, 18 Jun 2017


Mohammed Qeshta Replied at 5:27 AM, 19 Jun 2017

Thanks a lot.

Reapi Mataika Replied at 7:30 PM, 19 Jun 2017

I agree with the the term CHW being used for all those who perform any sort of health care duties. In my country the term applies to village health workers who may also be the traditional birth attendant, a retired nurse or just a villager. The duties may also vary as organizations take this into account.

This Expert Panel is Archived.

This Expert Panel is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.