The Community Health Aide (CHA) Program was developed in the 1950s in response to several health concerns. These included a tuberculosis epidemic, high infant mortality, and a high rate of injuries in rural Alaska. In 1968, the CHA Program received formal recognition and congressional funding. The long history of cooperation and coordination between federal and state governments and Native tribal health organizations has facilitated improved health status in rural Alaska.
The CHA Program is now a network of about 550 Community Health Aides/Practitioners (CHA/Ps) in more than 170 rural Alaska villages. CHA/Ps work within the guidelines of the 2006 Alaska Community Health Aide/Practitioner Manual, which outlines assessment and treatment protocols. CHA/Ps are part of an established referral relationship that includes mid-level providers, physicians, regional hospitals, and the Alaska Native Medical Center. In addition, providers such as public health nurses, physicians, and dentists visit villages to see clients in collaboration with the CHA/Ps.
The Alaska Area Native Health Service has the responsibility for provision of medical and health-related services to Indian Health Service beneficiaries residing in Alaska. These services are provided by tribal organizations within the Alaska Tribal Health System. The village-based CHA/Ps are a vital link in the delivery system.
Community Health Aides are selected by their communities to receive training. Training centers are located in Anchorage, Bethel, Nome, and Sitka. CHAs take part in four sessions of training-each lasts three to four weeks. Between sessions, the CHAs work in their clinics completing a skills list and practicum. Completion of the four-session training curriculum and successful completion of a clinical skills preceptorship and examination qualify the CHA as a Community Health Practitioner (CHP). CHA/Ps at any level of training may obtain certification by the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board.
For more information on the Alaska CHA Program, please visit http://www.akchap.org.