The Community Health Aide (CHA) Program was developed in the 1950s in response to a number of health concerns including the tuberculosis epidemic, high infant mortality, and 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 the federal and state governments and the Native tribal health organizations has facilitated improved health status in rural Alaska.
The CHA Program now consists of a network of approximately 550 Community Health Aides/Practitioners (CHA/Ps) in over 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. There is an established referral relationship, which includes mid-level providers, physicians, regional hospitals, and the Alaska Native Medical Center. In addition, providers such as public health nurses, physicians, and dentists make visits to villages to see clients in collaboration with the CHA/Ps.