• Janise

KANGOMBE x HARVARD University: Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs

Deliver high-quality primary health care at scale through national community health worker programs.


This course studies core concepts of community health worker (CHW) programs, and explores what is needed to build and strengthen large-scale programs.


The curriculum highlights 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.


This course was created for health systems leaders to deliver quality care through community health worker programs and to advance their knowledge and skills to implement long term critical change.

  • 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

One main core concept in the CHW program design is ensuring CHWs are seen as part of the care team and not separate. Quality, training and salary continue to be an issue alongside the Lack of vision and respect for the CHW position. Another factor is the lack of CHW awareness in the community.


The most recommended form of CHW design is dependent on the resources that you have. In some countries, NGO’s and the private sector held most of the control, in other countries, the government set the policies and in others a coalition was created. We have a mixture in the USA.


Future Statistics of these programs internationally: 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.


6 Week Course now available at https://online-learning.harvard.edu/

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