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 to improve access to high-quality health services.
Individual course: $79
Course duration: 6 weeks total
Time commitment: 2-4 hours each week
Experience level: Introductory
Learning partner: Harvard University
Course type: Self-paced on your time
Subjects: Business, management, health, safety, and social sciences
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.
Topics of study
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
About Harvard University
Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. Harvard faculty are engaged with teaching and research to push the boundaries of human knowledge. The University has 12 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The University, which is based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, has an enrollment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world.