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UNICEF Innovation

Community Health Worker (CHW) +

Community Health Worker (CHW+) is a collaborative, multi-sector approach to strengthening Community Health Worker (CHW) programmes through the creation of a fully integrated system - centred on a backpack containing all the supplies a CHW needs.



The CHW + project was initiated by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Health Alliance, Save the Children, One Million Community Health Worker Campaign, and UNICEF. Together, they worked with over 60 organizations to find an all-inclusive toolkit for CHWs which will improve the effectiveness and engagement of health solutions.

Challenges in CHW service delivery

An estimated seven million children die every year due to a lack of basic health resources. Diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria account for over 70 per cent of under 5 deaths. Preventing and treating these conditions is critical to achieving Millennium Development Goal number 4. For many children and caregivers, the only link to any health system is through a CHW. CHWs are often unpaid volunteers and constitute the last-mile of hope for many young patients dealing with pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. They know and understand the health needs of those around them and are pivotal resources in providing important services to the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

Although they have the potential to reduce child mortality by 25 per cent or more (when properly deployed), they often lack the right resources, and access to quality training.  Moreover, there is limited awareness and appreciation for the critical role which they play. As a result, CHWs often remain marginalised in the health system.

In order to increase their impact on child mortality, CHWs need holistic solutions which address their daily and long-term needs. The CHW + project is a systematic and comprehensive approach which tries to achieve these goals.   

The CHW + framework

CHW + is a holistic framework which aims to empower and support CHWs. There are three aspects of CHW +:


1) The Guide

A reference guide which assesses the gaps and the best practices, which will align partners to scale up existing and future CHW initiatives. 

2) The Tools

A systemic set of physical and digital tools to empower CHWs and improve the quality of the healthcare services they provide. 

3) The Emblem

A symbol for CHW + which could be used by the public health community and large scale fundraising. 

Project progress 

During Phase 1 of the project (April – July 2013),  partners (UNICEF, Save the Children, MDG Health Alliance, One Million CHW Campaign and many others) worked with Frog  - a design company - to develop a holistic set of solutions that meet the real-world needs of CHWs.   

Phase 1 included several workshops and field research in Senegal and Uganda as indicated in the illustration below.  

As the project moves towards Phase 2, partners are working together to build on the momentum from Phase 1 and ensure the further success of the project. The establishment of a project plan for Phase 2 is currently being drafted by the CHW+ Working Group. As UNICEF Supply Division has strong experience in both product development and kit distribution, we wish to further engage the project, by supporting the concept of a physical kit. The backpack is a supplementary tool which will work alongside existing ones, aimed at improving the MDG. The CHW + Backpack contains key drugs, diagnostics, tools and enablers for the Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) as well as soft components such as training and access to supervisors.  



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