This past week, Nyaya had the opportunity to attend Partners In Health’s (PIH) first annual Community Health Worker (CHW) Summit in Boston. More than 30 CHW program leaders from more than 20 countries/programs attended, including representatives from Tiyatien Health (Liberia), Project Muso (Mali), Zanmi Lasante (Haiti), Inshuti Mu Buzima (Rwanda), Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (Malawi), Companeros de Salud (Mexico), Socios en Salud (Peru), and PACT (Dorchester, Massachusetts). Spanning more than three days, the agenda included sessions on CHW recruitment, training, management and supervision, monitoring and evaluation, and retention. It also addressed related topics such as the implementation of mobile health applications and 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 attendants, highlighting our progress and challenges to date, as we approach the notable milestone of our 24th month of program implementation. A robust discussion of interim program evaluations 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 the program’s stated goals. This discussion is particularly salient as Nyaya begins 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 while also maintaining and expanding 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.
Dan Schwarz is a member of the Board of Directors and a medical student at Brown University School of Medicine. He completed his MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health.