Community mental health workers in rural India (2) CHW terminology

14 January, 2020

Neil Thanks for sharing.

The term 'dedicated CHW' appeals to me because I think that it 'kills many birds': it signifies that this particular cohort of health personnel are trained to care for a specific patient type / condition. It is Mental health in this study but it could be asthma, diabetes, etc. It also avoids the challenges of awareness, acceptance by other health team members, clarity of role, and rejection by most if they are called 'Specialist'. The risk of the whole CHW scheme failing is heightened by such a title.

It is important to state that traditionally, in all the health professions, the title 'specialist' is earned after passing specified examinations in post basic and additional organized training prescribed by a curriculum higher than the mere basic. That is not the situation with the proposed 'specialist CHW', which as important as the cadre is increasingly recognized today, it is still the least 'qualified' health worker and whose training is the very basic too. They are not specialists! The term will cause confusion and it may be abused by sone of the holders in rural parts of LMICs.

Joseph Ana

HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers.

Email: jneana AT