Community Health Workers

Susan B. Rifkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The concept of community health workers (CHWs), inspired by China's 'barefoot doctors,' combined health service delivery and agent of change. It expanded rapidly in 1978 when Primary Health Care was adopted as health policy for the member states of the World Health Organization. The translation of theory into practice identified five issues critical to the development of CHWs, which are explored in detail in this article. These issues are: (1) Who is the CHW? (2) Can CHWs be both service extenders and facilitators for community improvement? (3) What training and support do CHWs need? (4) Are CHW programs effective? and (5) Are CHW programs sustainable?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Public Health
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780128037089
ISBN (Print)9780128036785
StatePublished - Oct 6 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alma Ata
  • Community health workers
  • Community health workers-Bangladesh
  • Community health workers-Brazil
  • Community health workers-Iran
  • Community health workers-Jamkhed
  • Community health workers-sub Saharan Africa
  • Community health workers-USA
  • Cost-effectiveness of community health workers
  • Empowerment
  • Human resources incentives for community health workers
  • India
  • Primary health care
  • Sustainability of community health workers
  • Training of community health workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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