Community health workers (CHWs) are the cornerstone of primary health care in many regions of the world. But they are often overloaded and underprepared to care for their patients. From lacking adequate transportation to supplies, CHWs are forced to carry out their responsibilities with the limited resources they have.
Despite the critical role CHWs play, there is a disconnect between CHWs and policymakers who allocate funds and resources. For far too long, CHWs have been excluded from discussions about their work and health care in their communities.
Recognizing the importance of including CHWs in conversations about their livelihoods, the Community Health Impact Coalition, the Stanford Center for Health Education’s Digital Medic initiative, and an advisory group of CHWs from around the world collaborated on a unique project to elevate the voices of CHWs. The result was a digital advocacy course designed to equip CHWs with the tools to take charge of their work and support their own well-being.
Supporting In-Person and Hybrid Group Learning
Now, in an effort to reach even more CHWs around the world, CHIC and Digital Medic have adapted the self-guided online course to a facilitated experience. The CHW Advocacy Training Facilitator Guide is available online and can be downloaded to use for in-person or hybrid group learning.
Similar to the digital course, the facilitator guide contains material for four instructional modules: Background on Community Health Systems, Advocacy, Storytelling, and Technology & Tools. A mix of videos, interactive exercises, and reading activities emphasize active learning and reflection throughout the course.
While the guide recommends that the training sessions be taught over the course of two days, they can be spaced out over several days or weeks depending on local circumstances. The in-person facilitated course is accompanied by an optional student handbook.
Carolyne Wanyonyi, CHIC’s CHW engagement lead, said that the facilitator guide reflects the important work both organizations are undertaking to make sure CHWs get the support and recognition they deserve so they can deliver high-quality health care.
“This facilitator guide will help CHIC advance its objectives by ensuring that CHWs have the necessary knowledge and skills, and the power to speak in one voice. Our vision is to have all community health workers trained, well equipped and in a position to advocate for their rights.”
- Carolyne Wanyonyi, engagement lead at CHIC
In developing the digital course and the facilitator guide, Digital Medic and CHIC worked with an advisory group of CHWs from around the world, including from multiple countries in Africa, South Asia and Central America. The collaborative process was designed to truly understand CHWs’ needs and desires.
The facilitator guide is designed for CHWs who have already completed the digital course to train local CHWs who may not have access to devices or the internet, as well as for CHW organizations that conduct in-person trainings.
“As a facilitator, you play a critical role in helping to unlock the advocacy power of CHWs around the world,” the guide reads. “Your mission is to empower CHWs with the skills and confidence to more effectively achieve their advocacy goals, and also to participate in future speaking events about community health.”
Nophiwe Job, a research analyst for Digital Medic, said the idea behind the facilitator guide was born out of a desire to spread the knowledge encapsulated in the course to a broader audience of CHWs.
“Oftentimes platforms are created with important information, but they may not be completely accessible to the user. It could be the lack of digital resources or other aspects we may not have control over,” Job said. “But by creating the guide, we are empowering CHWs who have taken the course by giving them the tools they need to train other health workers.”
The guide was carefully designed with access in mind, according to Digital Medic instructional design associate Erika Tribett. “Access means approachability, accessibility, and relevance,” she said. “So we tried to design a guide that’s appropriate for the settings where it is being utilized and stays true to the core principles of the original course,” Tribett said.
Though the facilitator guide was just launched, it is being piloted in a number of regions by CHWs who have completed the digital advocacy course. “I went through the guide and it was of good help because of the simple terms that are there and at the same time, it guides you on what to do next,” Euniter Adoyo, a CHW from Kenya, shared during a recent focus group discussion.
“It’s important for community health workers to be involved in every matter where their matters are being discussed,” Wanyonyi said. “The facilitator guide is just the tool to ensure that.”