Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs

6 weeks total 2 - 4 hours each week
1938

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About this course

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.

What you’ll learn

  • Core concepts in community health as part of primary health systems
  • Key components in the design and optimization of community health worker programs as exemplified through country case studies
  • How to advocate for community health worker programs with key stakeholders
  • The evidence demonstrating the impact and returns of community health workers
  • How to build coalitions to support government-led programs
  • How to break down silos and reduce duplicative efforts in the wider community health ecosystem
  • The common issues that arise in implementing community health worker programs at scale

Meet the instructor

Rajesh Ramesh Panjabi

Rajesh Ramesh Panjabi

Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School at Harvard University
Dr Raj Panjabi is Founder of the Community Health Academy, CEO of Last Mile Health, and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Dr. Panjabi grew up in Liberia and fled Liberia’s civil war with his family when he was nine years old. He returned to Liberia as a medical student and in 2007, where he co-founded Last Mile Health, a non-profit organization partnering with governments to invest in teams of community and frontline health workers who extend the reach of primary health care to the world’s most remote communities. Last Mile Health and a global faculty network are building the Community Health Academy (led by Executive Director, Magnus Conteh), a global platform leveraging the power of digital technology to support countries to modernize the training of community health workers and health systems leaders. Panjabi has worked on rural community-based primary health care systems in Alaska, Liberia, and Afghanistan. Panjabi is a Gavi Champion, member of the International Advisory Group for Frontlines First at the Global Financing Facility, advisor to the Community Health Roadmap, and a member of the Community Health Worker Hub at the World Health Organization, where he served on the External Review Group for the WHO's guidelines on health policy and system support to optimize community health worker programs. Panjabi has authored or co-authored over 50 publications. He has chaired a global study with the Gates Ventures and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation investigating lessons learned from exemplar community-based health care programs. For his work on building rural and community-based primary health care systems, Panjabi was named by TIME as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World and one of the 50 Most Influential People in Healthcare. He has also been listed as one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune. Panjabi is a recipient of the TED Prize, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and is a Schwab Social Entrepreneur with the World Economic Forum. Panjabi is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and primary care at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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1938

Experience Level

Introductory

Learning Partner

Harvard

Program Type

Course

Subject

Business & Management Social Sciences