May 2015 - Internet Resources Digest


Resources for Community Health Workers

AIHA Internet Resources Digest
May 2015

Supporting Access to High Quality Online Resources

Spotlight on: Resources for Community Health Workers

Community health workers (CHW) are members of a community who are chosen by community members or organizations to provide basic health and medical care to their community. Other names for this type of health care provider include village health worker, community health aide, community health promoter, and lay health advisor. The World Health Organization estimates there are over 1.3 million community health workers worldwide. "Task shifting" of primary care functions from professional health workers to community health workers is considered to be a means to make more efficient use of the human resources currently available and improving the health of millions at reasonable cost.

International Programs and Organizations

Work Group for Community Health and Development

The KU Work Group has developed widely used capabilities for community-based participatory research and for building capacity for community work, including through the Community Tool Box1 and the Online Documentation and Support System2. Recognition of these capabilities led to official designation in 2004 as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development. The CTB contains over 7,000 pages of practical information for skills related to community assessment, strategic planning, intervention, evaluation, advocacy, and sustaining the effort. Used by over 2.2 million unique users from over 200 countries worldwide the CTB helps to enhance skills of profes- sionals and local leaders working to improve community health and development. Content is currently available in English and Spanish; and in Arabic

Rural Health Advocacy Project

The Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) advocates for improved access to high quality, comprehensive health care services in rural areas with the aim of improving the health of the South African population. The RHAP is a partnership between the Wits Centre for Rural Health, the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) and SECTION 27 (previously the Aids Law Project), based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was launched in August 2009 in response to the specific health challenges in rural areas. The focus areas of the initiative are:

  • Voice: This priority addresses the need to make rural health more visible to key stakeholders, such as the government, the media and the general public, by highlighting challenges and good practices.
  • Policy: This priority entails the rural-proofing of existing and new policies and guidelines.

Implementation: This priority area focuses on actual implementation on the ground in relation to HR and Health Systems.

1mCHW Campaign

The 1mCHW Campaign, which has a partnership base of over 150 organizations from United Nations agencies, civil society, the private sector, and academia, was launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City hosts the Campaign’s Secretariat. Since its launch, the Campaign has been actively supporting African governments and partners who are dedicated to increasing the number and quality of lay health workers in the region.

The Campaign believes that the best way to close this gap is by supporting governments, global partners, and national stakeholders dedicated to Community Health Worker (CHW) scale-up in the context of health systems strengthening:

  1. Advocating for the recognition of CHWs as a formal cadre of health workers
  2. Providing technical assistance to governments seeking to enhance and scale-up nationally recognized CHW programs
  3. Urging financing organizations to support CHWs and to motivate countries to increase mobilization of their own resources and to request support from donors until the government no longer need such external support.

CHW Central

CHW Central is an online community of practice that brings together program managers, experts, practitioners, researchers, and supporters of CHW programs. The web- site is a virtual meeting place to share re- sources and experiences and to discuss and develop questions and ideas on CHW programs and policy. This site is available to all, however to participate actively in the conversations you need to register for a free membership. CHW Central's features include:

  • What’s New: You will find announcements about updated content on CHW Central, and news, conferences, and events that are of interest to the global CHW community.
  • Featured Content/Archives: We will keep you informed about new research, best practices, global and U.S. policy discussions, tools and success stories. We welcome your ideas for new topics or presenters. This is your opportunity to participate in a conversation with experts from around the world who are involved in CHW programs.
  • CHW Forum: Are you looking for supervision guidelines in Swahili, documents on integrated CCM or information about how the Affordable Care Act affects US-based CHWs? In this section you can pose questions to the entire CHW Central community, or create your own forum on new topics and respond to the questions and comments of other members.
  • Resources: The CHW Central resource database includes case studies, journal articles, training materials and more
  • Partners: Read about partner organizations and find links to their websites on the Partners page.
  • Links: CHW Central’s Links page helps you connect with other organizations implementing and supporting innovative CHW programs, as well as other resource-sharing sites.

Journals and Publications

Community health workers: What do we know about them?

The state of the evidence on programmes, activities, costs and impact on health outcomes of using community health workers. A report by Uta Lehmann and David Sanders, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape. WHO, Evidence and Information for Policy, Department of Human Resources for Health, Geneva, January 2007.

This review paper revisits questions regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of community health worker programmes. It was commissioned by the World Health Organization as a follow-up to the World health report 2006: working together for health, which identified as a research priority the feasibility of successfully engaging community health workers. This review aims to assess the presently existing evidence. It constitutes a desktop review, very broad in scope, as is evident from the title, which draws together and as- sesses the evidence as it can be found in the published and selected “grey” literature since the late 1970s.

Community Guide

The Community Guide is a website that houses the official collection of all Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) findings and the systematic reviews on which they are based. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides administrative, research, and technical support for the Community Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Community Preventive Services is a free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in your community. Systematic reviews are used to answer these questions:

  • Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective?
  • Are there effective interventions that are right for my community?
  • What might effective interventions cost; what is the likely return on investment?

Journal of Community Health

The Journal of Community Health, a peer-reviewed publication, offers original articles on the practice, teaching, and research of community health. Coverage includes preventive medicine, new forms of health manpower, analysis of environmental factors, delivery of health care services, and the study of health maintenance and health insurance programs. Selected open access articles.

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

This is a leading international journal devoted to publication of original research and reviews covering applied, methodological and theoretical issues with emphasis on studies using multidisciplinary or integrative approaches. It publishes original research, opinions and materials concerned with the study and improvement of communities worldwide. Selected open access articles.

Journal of Primary Care & Community Health

Journal of Primary Care and Community Health (JPC), published quarterly, offers peer-reviewed evidence about the practice, impact and outcomes of primary care services and community health programs. Access to full-text through HINARI.

Hesperian health guides

Hesperian health guides are developed for communities with limited access to health care. All materials are field-tested around the world by grassroots community organizations, health providers, clinics, and individuals. By presenting accurate and actionable health information in a simple, heavily illustrated style, Hesperian makes health information accessible to all. Available online, in print, and on CDs.

A Map of Community Health Workers in sub-Saharan Africa

Direct Relief and Esri developed a map to track the availability of community health workers in sub-Saharan Africa. The map supports the 1 Million Community Health Workers Campaign.

South Africa: mHealth Community Health Worker Research

This document presents the findings of Community Healthcare Worker research undertaken in South Africa, with the aim of providing insights for the development and launch of mHealth services. September, 2014.

  • The broadening of mHealth tool features and capabilities, along with regular training, will help support CHWs in their day-to-day work beyond health
  • CHWs could potentially be tapped as mobile agents, allowing them to supplement their current low, and in some cases non-existent, stipend, although this could distract from the fulfillment of their primary health-care responsibilities tools with fellow CHWs
  • The identification of CHWs who can become informal “tech champions” in order to explain and optimize the usage of existing tools with fellow CHWs
  • Develop a data- and cost-efficient “WhatsApp” type app that allows moderated inter-channel communication (i.e. between the app and SMS) and that can be used by CHWs to communicate with patients and fellow CHWs.

About the AIHA Internet Resources Digest

The Internet Resources Digest — previously called the Health Resources Digest — is distributed free of charge as a service of the American International Health Alliance’s Knowledge Management Program thanks to the generous support of the American people through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Knowledge Management Program is implemented through AIHA’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program, which is funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The Internet Resources Digest is compiled by Irina Ibraghimova, PhD, Library and Information Management Specialist, HealthConnect International ( The contents are the responsibility of AIHA and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEPFAR, HRSA, or the United States Government. 

If you have a suggestion for a Digest topic, or would like to contribute information about Internet resources, please contact ibra[at]

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