The Community Health Workers (CHW) Thematic Working Group (TWG) supports the generation, synthesis and communication of evidence on the roll out and functioning of community health worker programs to enable learning across geographical and political contexts.
National and international decision-makers are once again turning to CHWs to strengthen health systems in the context of the push towards universal access and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
CHW programs rely on staff who live and work at the community level, engaging with people in their own dwellings or workplaces. This means that there is true potential to strengthen delivery of health services through tailoring them to meet the needs and realities of individuals and households, and making more appropriate links between community service and the formal health system.
Systematic reviews show that CHW programs are potentially effective interventions. However, we have minimal information on the conditions that make a program work in different contexts. There is a need for evidence on the costs of CHW programs and the interventions that strengthen their functioning which respond to the challenges being faced in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Research on how to integrate these workers into the larger health system; manage, coordinate and incentivize CHWs; and monitor and evaluate the impacts of these programs is crucial for guiding decision-makers. The CHW TWG brings together academics, policy makers and people implementing programs to share, explore and understand the existing evidence base and generate new knowledge to ensure that CHW programs are accessible, equitable and efficient.
- Raise awareness of the crucial role that CHWs play within the health system.
- Bring together diverse individuals and networks to share knowledge in a structured and facilitated manner.
- Convene practitioners and decision-makers in order to better understand the real-world challenges being faced and encourage the use of the existing and emerging evidence base in policy and practice.
- Promote an institutionalized practice of monitoring interventions and evaluating results by all decision-makers and practitioners.
- Amplify the voices of CHWs and community groups within these dialogues.
Key activities include supporting dialogue online, for example, by hosting webinars; organizing biennial international symposia on CHWs; arranging events, for example at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research; facilitating learning across the group, such as through webinars; supporting research; and publishing and evidence translation into products, which meet the needs of diverse audiences.
Our networks and platforms:
- CHW Central:
CHW Central is an online community of practice that brings together program managers, experts, practitioners, researchers, and supporters of CHW programs.
- HIFA (Healthcare Information for All)
HIFA is a global health network with more than 18,000 members (health workers, librarians, publishers, researchers, policymakers).
- Community Health Systems Community of Practice
An ‘open space’ in terms of both contribution and access to knowledge, it aims at gathering practitioners, policymakers, researchers, program implementers and other experts actively involved in the technical or policy development of community health programs in LMICs.