CHWs (86) Certification of CHWs (4)

19 June, 2019

Hi Catherine,

I don’t know of many countries outside of the US, Canada and parts of Brazil that actually have formal CHW certification programs at this point. I pulled this resource from CHW Central on CHW Certification in the US which might interest you: (there are several others if you’re interested in reading more). In the US, certification is on a state-by-state basis and for a CHW to work in another state, they would need to get certified for that state (much as lawyers need to take the bar for the state in which they operate). But transferability of certification raises an important question with regard to CHWs – is a CHW transferable and, if so, under what conditions? If one of the core criteria for the definition of a CHW is that they be from and reside in the community they serve, then it should not be possible for them to be re-located as a matter of standard practice. Of course people move and may want to continue working, so how would we manage/assess this?

In many countries, CHWs undergo a national training and, therefore, certification, were it to exist, would likely be national. In my view, CHWs should be able to continue operating as CHWs if they and their families move to new communities and if they can demonstrate a degree of integration into those new communities. What we want to avoid, however, is CHWs being deployed by health systems to communities where they have no deep connection – much like doctors and nurses are often deployed – that would, in my view, go against one of the core attributes of a CHW.

Of interest to you and others may also be the new National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) in the US. NACHW launched just this past April and is the first national community health worker association that I know of, though there is also the Community Health Worker Network of Canada, which has some similar aims to NACHW in the US. I have heard of some state associations of ASHA workers in India, but am not sure how active they are. I am sure one of our colleagues in India can jump in and add some detail on this. As these national associations and networks grow, they are likely to play a larger role in working with government to advance the CHW profession, including developing certification programs.



Technical Manager CHW Central

Rebecca Furth

Senior Technical Advisor

Initiatives Inc.

264 Beacon Street

Boston, MA 02116

Phone: 617-262-0293

HIFA profile: Rebecca Furth is a public health specialist and cultural anthropologist. She is a Senior Technical Advisor at Initiatives Inc., USA and Technical Manager for Her professional interests include human resources for health, community health worker program strengthening, organizational development, health systems strengthening, and culture and development. She is a member of the HIFA working group on CHWs. rfurth AT