CHWs (120) Model for CHW training

3 July, 2019

A model of providing continued education for CHWs in South Africa may be of interest to HIFA members. South Africa has a district health system for providing primary care. This includes district/ward based outreach teams made up of a profession nurse and 5 CHWs. Short courses for CHWs addressing topics such as Mother and Child Health have been developed using the innovative, self-directed education method devised for distance learning by nurses, midwives, medical and nursing students, and doctors. This method of group learning by health professionals has been used very successfully and well documented over the past 25 years. The courses are available as books or can be accessed on an open-source learning station using smart phones or personal computers (

Recently this method has been adapted for CHW who meet with their lead professional nurse on a weekly basis to read the material together and then discuss, in their home language, what has been studied. An unpublished study with CHWs shows that this method is well accepted and improves confidence, knowledge and understanding. The lead nurse facilitates the process but does not teach the CHWs. No formal trainers are needed and therefore the cost of training is minimal. The range of CHW courses is slowly being expanded to cover all important topics such as immunisation. Within a district health model thousands of CHWs can be supported with continuing education without the need for additional resources.

Regards, Dave Woods

HIFA profile: Dave Woods is emeritus professor in neonatal medicine at the School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is Chairman of the Perinatal Education Trust and Eduhealthcare, both not-for-profit non-government organisations that develop appropriate self-help distance learning material for doctors and nurses who care for pregnant women and their children in under-resourced communities. He has 30 years experience as a clinical neonatologist, with particular interests in perinatal care and training of health professionals. He is currently developing paper-based continuing learning material in maternal care, newborn care, childhealth, and care of adults and children with HIV/AIDS. He is also participating in the design and development of wind-up appropriate health technology for poor countries. pepcourse AT