More than 30 CHW program leaders from across the globe came together in Boston this past week for the first annual PIH CHW Summit.

By Dan Schwarz

During the last week in May, Nyaya Health – the Nepalese-based medical NGO – had the opportunity to attend Partners In Health’s first annual Community Health Worker (CHW) Summit in Boston. More than 30 CHW program leaders attended the Summit, including representatives from Tiyatien Health (Liberia), Project Muso (Mali), Zanmi Lasante (Haiti), Inshuti Mu Buzima (Rwanda), Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (Malawi), Companeros En Salud (Mexico), Socios En Salud (Peru), COPE (Navajo Nation), and PACT (Dorchester, Massachusetts).  

Spanning four days, the agenda included sessions on CHW recruitment, training, management and supervision, monitoring and evaluation, retention, and related topics such as the implementation of mobile health applicationsand research strategies to improve CHW programs.

With regards to Nyaya’s own CHW program, we had the opportunity to present our program to the other participants, highlighting our progress and challenges to date, as we approach the notable milestone of two years of program implementation. A robust discussion of interim program evaluation and re-evaluations ensued, highlighting other programs’ challenges in the early identification of “vision drift,” and the importance of periodically re-assessing a program’s progress as measured by its stated goals.

This discussion is particularly salient as Nyaya undertakes a complete CHW program audit and review during the summer of 2012, with the hopes of ensuring that we stay true to the our patients’ needs and maintain and expand our program accordingly.

With gratitude to PIH and to all of our partners from around the world, we look forward to much more robust network collaborations in the future, such that we may learn from the lessons of those who have come before us, and humbly offer our own lessons learnt to those who are struggling for their own communities alongside us.

Learn more about Nyaya Health.

Dan Schwarz is a board member for the Nepal-based Nyaya Health and a medical student at Brown University School of Medicine. He completed his MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health.