Close-to-community (CTC) providers are health workers who carry out promotional, preventive and/or curative health services and who are often the first point of contact at community level in countries in the global south. CTC providers usually have at least a minimum level of training in the context of the intervention that they carry out and include a broad variety of health workers, including community health workers (CHWs) and auxiliary health workers. CTC providers are strategically placed as the interface between health systems and the communities they serve. National and international decision-makers are once again turning to (CTC) services in order to strengthen health systems in the context of the momentum generated by strategies to support universal access, delivery of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-MDG agenda. However there are a number of flaws in current systems that need to be better understood. We are at a critical stage in the development of CTC programming and policy which requires the creation and communication of new knowledge to ensure the safety, sustainability, quality and accessibility of services, and their links with both the broader health system and the communities that CTC’s serve.
The series covers a range of topics on close to community providers for health systems development, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Conceptualising the range of CTC providers in different contexts
- Methods and tools for analysing CTC programmes
- Cost effectiveness of CTC programmes
- Challenges and opportunities CTC providers face in reaching and supporting marginalised groups
- Diverse community perspectives and ownership of CTC programmes
- Opportunities for CTC providers to act as champions for social change
- The interface between health systems and CTC programmes
- Strategies to motivate, retain and sustain CTC providers
- Integrating vertical programmes using CTC providers within national programmes
This series is published in collaboration with the Thematic Working Group on Supporting and Strengthening the Role of Community Health Workers in Health System Development and REACHOUT.
The editors express no competing interests and the view expressed in the articles are a sole responsibility of the authors.