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UCSD embarks on three-year, $3 million effort to train 200 community health workers

During the coronavirus pandemic, people considered “trusted messengers” in their communities have shown a strong ability to educate the public about vaccination, and a new national initiative seeks to build on that progress by creating more formal certification. for community health workers.

UC San Diego is leading a $3 million effort to train and certify 200 such workers in San Diego County over the next three years, part of a $225 million initiative sanctioned by the Biden administration that aims to hit 13,000 community health workers nationwide.

The goal, explained Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy, a professor at the university’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, is to recruit students, especially from refugee, immigrant and refugee neighborhoods. ‘Native Americans of San Diego County.

Those with a demonstrable level of trust in the community are key references to be part of an anticipated first batch of 80 applicants to the program, which is expected to begin this summer.

“This training has a lot more impact if that community trust already exists, so the training just helps build the skills and tools they need to serve as effective community health workers,” Al-Delaimy said. “We’re looking for that commitment to go through all the training and stay with that program for whatever three years it takes.”

The program, he added, is modeled after the successful “promotora” health worker programs that have been highly effective in Latino communities in San Diego.

While immigrants from Mexico make up the region’s largest cohort, San Diego County is also home to the second-largest number of Iraqi immigrants in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Other countries in the Middle East and Africa, particularly Somalia, are also well represented.

Those with a strong voice in these communities, and especially those who are bilingual, are preferred to participate in the program, which is expected to include around 90 hours of instruction in its first year, followed by two years of learning support. practical experience through learning and possibly work.

Community health workers are not considered health or public health professionals, but rather serve as trusted messengers, helping people they know in their communities to understand health issues and navigate the often complicated process of accessing health services.

Some instructions, Al-Delaimy said, will focus on navigating the health system, managing cases and disseminating public health information effectively, while other “soft skills” such as cultural sensitivity and interpersonal communication will also be on the program.

Collaborators include Somali Family Service, San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition, San Diego Workforce Partnership, ACTRI Center for Community Health and Health Center Partners of Southern California, and Family Health Centers of San Diego.

The official name of the program is Community Health Workers for Advancing Public Health Within Immigrant/Refuge and Native American Communities Program.

More information and application instructions are available on the program’s website,

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