Community Health Workers (CHWs) have been a powerful workforce in promoting health services as well as strengthening health systems around the world. As per WHO, Community health workers should be members of the communities where they work, should be selected by the communities, should be answerable to the communities for their activities, should be supported by the health system but not necessarily a part of its organization, and have shorter training than professional workers. For Bangladesh, a CHW is a permanent resident of a particular community, assigned by government/non-government organization who provides promotive, preventive, limited curative care, rehabilitative, palliative and referral services in relation to maternal, neonatal, child & adolescent health, family planning, nutrition, communicable and non-communicable diseases to his/her community and shall be held accountable for the nonperformance of these services."
Informally originated in China in the 1920s, the CHWs were then confined to some initial tasks such as registration of births and deaths, vaccination against small-pox and other communicable diseases along with health education and first-aid for the target population. They, however, drew increasing attention in many low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), during 1960s in particular and more specifically since 1978 when the first International Conference on Primary Health Care took place in Alma-Ata.
In parallel to boosting up the initiatives, various strategic approaches have been undertaken to deploy CHWs in different national contexts which show remarkable successes in promoting access to basic health care services in poorer, remote, rural and hard-to-reach community settings. The large-scale successful examples include the Brazilian national health care programme; community based family planning programme in Bangladesh; female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) in Nepal.
There are, however, weaknesses and challenges also. Despite of necessity of CHWs, they are still considered as ‘second class’ service provider for ‘temporarily solutions’; they have a lack of appropriate training skills in rapidly changing contexts in terms of demographic and epidemiological transition; often face shortage of supplies and equipment and necessary supports to deliver better health services.
Evidences suggest that CHWs are useful and cost-effective, constitute a critical mass of health-workforce, and have the potential to contribute more in addressing emerging health priorities like Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) further to achieving the targets of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To enable the CHW programmes efficacious on a large scale, governments, civil society, political parties, communities, international development partners need to assemble behind the groundswell of support to transform health systems in a convenient, high-quality, and cost-effective manner. It is also imperative to understand the dynamicity of their involvement, identify the systematic barriers and challenges globally and also in the local contexts.
Within these circumstances, the 2nd International Symposium on CHWs is a continuation of the 1st International Symposium held in 2017 in Uganda to showcase the contribution of CHW programmes across different areas of health related SDGs. The 2nd Symposium intends to bring academics, health experts, development partners and other relevant professionals into a common platform to discuss about past successes and challenges with CHWs in order to formulate strategic pathways for better community-based health programme for prevention and control of NCDs further to attain UHC and SDGs targets. There are various entities including universities, research institutions, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who have experience of working with CHWs; therefore, can take the opportunity to share their lessons learnt. There is also need to explore ranges of issues including systematic planning and multi-sectoral collaboration to capitalize CHWs for strengthening health systems for better outcomes.
International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
- Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Government of Bangladesh
- James P. Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), BRAC University, Bangladesh
- Save the Children, Bangladesh
The 2nd Symposium aims to facilitate better strategic pathways for developing community based programmes for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the context of universal health coverage (UHC) and sustainable development goals (SDG).
Potentials of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
- CHW Programmes in LMIC’s
- National Priority on Community Health Programmes for Prevention and Control of NCDs;
- Successes, Challenges, and Future Opportunities of CHW Programmes in Different Contexts;
- Mainstreaming CHWs in health systems;
- CHWs and Nutrition Programmes;
- Surveillance, Monitoring and the Issue of Measuring the Changes of CHW Programmes in Different Contexts.
- CHWs and UHC
- Gender Equity and Social Inclusion in Health Services;
- Quality Assurance Mechanisms in Health Services Delivery;
- Access to Health Services and Financial Protection;
- Standardization of CHWs across Public and Private Sector.
- CHWs in Special Situations
- Community Health Services in Urban Contexts;
- Disaster, Climate Change and Community Health Services;
- Community Health Work in Humanitarian Responses.
- CHW Programmes and Prevention and Control of NCDs
- Experiences and Potentials of CHWs for NCDs Prevention and Control;
- Inter-Sectoral Collaboration to Prevent and Control NCDs;
- CHW Programmes in Emerging Contexts of Addressing Mental Health and Disability.