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Community Health Workers and Pandemic Preparedness: Current and Prospective Roles

NatDoc: National Document
Website Link:
Publicly Available:
Billing and Reimbursement:
Evidence Generation:
Documentation of how CHWs can work within care teams, Evidence-based interventions
Identifying policy expertise within state, Lessons learned from other states
Sustainable Financing:​
Engaging state partners in general, Including community-based CHWs, Evidence-based interventions
Workforce Development:
CDC expand CHW work into SDOH, CHW training programs (not cert.), Data sharing between social services and clinical teams, General other (including mention of “employment practices”), Outreach education and TA to employers on CHW generally, Recruiting and convening CHWs stakeholders, Training- Content modes delivery, Training- Continuing education


Despite the importance of community health workers (CHWs) to health systems in resource-constrained environments, relatively little has been written about their contributions to pandemic preparedness. In this perspective piece, we draw from the response to the 2014 Ebola and 2015 Zika epidemics to review examples whereby CHWs contributed to health security and pandemic preparedness. CHWs promoted pandemic preparedness prior to the epidemics by increasing the access to health services and products within communities, communicating health concepts in a culturally appropriate fashion, and reducing the burdens felt by formal healthcare systems. During the epidemics, CHWs promoted pandemic preparedness by acting as community-level educators and mobilizers, contributing to surveillance systems, and filling health service gaps. Acknowledging the success CHWs have had in these roles and in previous interventions, we propose that the cadre may be better engaged in pandemic preparedness in the future.