Scaling national community health worker programs

what’s the challenge?

Illness is universal, access to care is not. Despite medical and technological advances over the past twenty-five years, half of the global population still lacks access to health care worldwide. 8.9 million people die every year, including 3.6 million children, because they lack access to life-saving reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health services.

Studies show that if we can train community health workers in 30 basic skills, we could save up to 30 million lives worldwide by 2030. Yet scale, quality, and cost remain key barriers to fully establishing and supporting national networks of Community Health Workers.

Global Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

What’s the opportunity?

Community Health Workers are on the front line of expanding access to care–and this Accelerator is working to expand their impact by supporting more countries in establishing their own national Community Health Worker programs. Building on their work in Liberia, Ethiopia, and Uganda, Last Mile Health has launched the Community Health Academy to revolutionize the training of community health worker and health systems leaders in the digital age, together with a coalition of over 50 partners.

Accelerator Commitments:

  • Launch a MOOC (massive open online course) curriculum, supported by HarvardX and edX, for health systems leaders as part of a longitudinal curriculum aimed at building strong health systems.
  • Create a Global Faculty Network to advise on best practices and priority competencies for continuing education.
  • Curate an online community of practice to promote sharing of skills and training from countries that are currently implementing or have successfully established their own national Community Health Worker programs.

Progress Achieved to Date:

  • Launched a global classroom for health systems leaders: The Community Health Academy’s first leadership course for health systems leaders—Strengthening Community Health Workers Programs—has now enrolled over 51,000 learners from 197 countries with over 27,000 learners actively engaged. Through videos, case studies, exercises, and discussion boards, the course explores how to build, optimize, and advocate for Community Health Workers programs.
  • Providing continuing education for Community Health Workers: The development and deployment of a new app by the Academy—in partnership with the Liberia Ministry of Health— has provided all 3,656 Community Health Workers and clinical supervisors, serving over 70% of Liberia’s rural population, with their own digital device connected to multimedia content on the diagnosis and treatment of malaria and malnutrition. Education and training on COVID-19 is now being added. In Uganda and Ethiopia, the Academy partnered with the Ministries of Health to develop and launch apps for health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
  • Established a Global Faculty Network: Building a network of global experts to provide oversight and guidance to the Academy team. The Academy also established the first two Regional Hubs to support West & Central and East & Southern Africa, hosted by the University of Liberia and Makerere University, respectively.

This Accelerator in Action

This Accelerator provides a powerful example of the progress that can be made when driven, innovative and resilient partners come together around an issue. Watch this video to get an inside look at the incredible work of Last Mile Health and their extraordinary partners.

What you can do


Learn more about community health worker programs, and sign up to take the first online course at