Despite medical and technological advances, half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services, and over 8.9 million preventable deaths occur every year. There is an acute global shortage of health workers, a gap that will grow to 18 million by 2030. Studies show that training high-performing community health workers can help close these gaps and save more than 3 million lives annually. In the past few decades, many community health worker programs across the world have demonstrated their ability to save lives — including in the hardest-to-reach areas. Yet despite this progress, lessons on how to successfully scale these programs as part of national primary health systems are not widely shared. This course introduces learners to the core concepts of community health worker programs, and explores what is needed to build and strengthen large-scale programs in order to improve access to high-quality health services. The curriculum highlights the key components of designing community health systems, addresses common management challenges, and showcases lessons learned from a range of contributors — from community-level practitioners to government leaders and other global health experts. Through case studies of exemplar countries (including Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Liberia), participants will learn from leaders across the globe how to advocate for, build, and optimize community health worker programs. This course was created by health systems leaders for health systems leaders. Whether you work in a Ministry of Health, lead or support a community health worker program, mobilize resources and advocate for increased investment in community health, or you are simply interested in knowing what it takes to deliver quality care through community health worker programs, learners will have the opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills to implement critical change. This course can be taken individually, but learners are also encouraged to convene their colleagues from within or across organizations to share insights and further enhance the learning experience.
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