Community health workers: helping WHO to maximise their impact

There are community health workers in every corner of the world. Some are volunteers, others are remunerated for their work. Some are working in the streets, others support services delivered in clinics or homes.

They might be delivering national health initiatives or running small, community-based programs. They’re men and women, old and young, and the job title they go by differs from community to community and country to country.

Working with a team of international researchers from Aga Khan University in Pakistan, Toronto University in Canada, and Australia’s Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne universities, CEI synthesised the existing research on how to train, support and develop community health workers. The team conducted 15 full systematic reviews, exploring key questions that get to the heart of community health work, including: how should community health workers be paid? How should they be selected for training? Should they be responsible for collecting data? Should they have regular supervision?

WHO’s ‘Guideline on health policy and system support to optimize community health worker programmes’ was launched on October 26 during the Global Conference on Primary Healthcare in Astana, Kazakhstan.

An abridged version of the Guideline, co-authored by CEI Director Bianca Albers and CEI Advisor David Taylor, was recently published in The Lancet Global Health and can be accessed online on the Lancet site here.

CEI is thrilled to have been able to use its expertise, in partnership with leading local and global universities and research institutions, on this important project and to see our work put into policy and practice through a close collaboration with WHO and the launch of the Guideline.