Large-scale community health worker programs are now growing in importance around the world in response to the resurgence of interest and growing evidence of the importance of community-based primary health care for improving the health of populations in resource-constrained, high-mortality settings. These programs, because of their scale and operational challenges, merit special consideration by the global health community, national policy-makers, and program implementers. A new online resource is now available to assist in that effort: Developing and Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs at Scale: A Reference Guide and Case Studies for Program Managers and Policymakers ( http://www.mchip.net/CHWReferenceGuide ). This CHW Reference Guide is the product of 27 different collaborators who, collectively, have a formidable breadth and depth of experience and knowledge about CHW programming around the world. It provides a thoughtful discussion about the many operational issues that large-scale CHW programs need to address as they undergo the process of development, expansion or strengthening. Detailed case studies of 12 national CHW programs are included in the Appendix-the most current and complete cases studies as a group that are currently available. Future articles in this journal will highlight many of the themes in the CHW Reference Guide and provide an update of recent advances and experiences. These articles will serve, we hope, to (1) increase awareness about the CHW Reference Guide and its usefulness and (2) connect a broader audience to the critical importance of strengthening large-scale CHW programs for the health benefits that they can bring to underserved populations around the world.
Keywords: Community health; Community health workers; Community-based primary health care; Primary health care.