Community Health Workers: what do international studies tell us?
This is a narrative review whose objective is to understand the state of the art of the literature on Community Health Worker (CHW) programs worldwide, identifying their nomenclatures, practices, training, and working conditions. The major concentration of CHW programs can still be found in low- and middle-income countries in Africa (18), Asia (12), and Latin America (05), with a few experiences in high-income countries in North America (02) and Oceania (01). In total, 38 experiences were cataloged, and the practices of care, surveillance, education, health communication, administrative practices, intersectoral articulation, and social mobilization were described. The levels and duration of CHW training were characterized, as were the different working conditions in each country. Much of the work is precarious, often voluntary and carried out by women. This review provided a comparative overview that can contribute to enrich the view of managers and decision-makers in contexts of the implementation, expansion, and reconfiguration of such programs.