It is estimated that approximately 7.2 million health workers are needed to provide essential health services worldwide. Community health workers (CHWs) are critical to be able to deliver health services directly to communities, and to meet immediate health needs and achieve universal health coverage (UHC), therefore it is imperative to incorporate CHWs into health systems. Unfortunately, CHWs are rarely accounted for by Ministries of Health (MOH), which has lead to a large gap in information on CHW numbers, performance, and their impact on primary health. The lack of data on CHWs inhibits governments’ ability to integrate CHWs into the health system, significantly constrains national decision-making within Ministries of Health, and makes it difficult for the global community to identify the best ways to overcome the severe shortages of health professionals that prevail across the world.
At the UNGA in September 2014, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), along with the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign, mPowering Frontline Health Workers, and other partners, brought together a diverse array of organizations, businesses, academics, and decision makers to discuss the critical need for data. This working session, which was inspired by the 2014 report A Commitment to Community Health Workers: Improving Data for Decision Making, was followed-up with another meeting in February 2015 at J&J’s Washington DC office. Building off of these two consultations, mPowering Frontline Health Workers and the 1mCHW Campaign collaborated to continue these critical discussions though an interview series, Data for Decision Making.
In summer of 2015, the 1mCHW Campaign and mPowering Frontline Health Workers interviewed some of the top minds in global public health to start to determine how we can begin to fill the CHW data gap. Key issues discussed were challenges to CHW scale-up and data collection, the role of technology in data collection and utilization, and potential ways to close the existing CHW data gap. Experts interviewed include:
To expand upon the conversations started in the first part interview series, the 1mCHW Campaign and mPowering Frontline Health Workers have come together with Health Information for All (HIFA) to host an online discussion this September. The goal of this discussion is hear from frontline health workers and other field-based health professionals to discuss innovative solutions to fill the CHW data gap. The discussion from provided the foundation for a short report on ways to improve and expand data available on CHWs.