We are delighted to be attending the Inspiring communities in global health: Community Health Workers and Universal Health Coverage Workshop which will be held at the Wellcome Collection, London, 12 June 2017.

The workshop focuses on two interlinked features: the impetus towards the mobilization of communities in the definition of health policies and the delivery of care; and the role played by community health workers (CHWs) in this process. The rationale underpinning this is that:

“On the one hand, communities were heralded as the natural site for the mobilization of health initiatives aimed at the democratization of access – indeed, community responses were seen by many as a privileged strategy to avoid top-down, ‘one size fits all’ approaches. On the other hand, from the outset CHWs functioned as a rallying point for the improvement and democratisation of healthcare, with more equitable and affordable coverage being combined with the promotion of healthy lifestyles and environments. Since then, whilst lip-service continues to be paid to community-centred approaches, their fate has often been subject to the vagaries of donor agendas. Likewise, CHWs have fallen victim to cost-cutting and to a global shift towards the control and eradication of specific diseases. This interdisciplinary workshop sets out to explore the efforts to inspire and mobilize community participation throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the role played by CHWs as a unique mechanism for the improvement of health systems with the potential for enhancing equity by bringing services to the previously excluded, while also enhancing democracy by mediating marginalised groups’ perspectives through to decision-making processes.”

Rosie Steege will be presenting on the importance of gender transformative policies for CHW programmes and Miriam Taegtmeyer will provide a paper on a systems-thinking approach to improving community health and the interface role of close-to-community providers in Africa and Asia.

The workshop is being organized by Dr João Nunes (Department of Politics, University of York) and Dr Alexander Medcalf (WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories, University of York). To find out more please contact João (joao.nunes@york.ac.uk).

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