Tag Archives: Health care provider

The Plight of Female Frontline Health Workers

We have written at length about the power of frontline health workers from documenting female frontline health workers in Ethiopia to discussing the importance of their work as they provide health care to those without access to health centers and hospitals. While we know that frontline health workers are pivotal to the overall health of a country, it is also important to note that many put their lives on the line in the name of global health.

Today news emerged from Nigeria that nine female polio health workers were killed by gunmen. There are only three countries where the polio is endemic – Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Female health workers in Pakistan were also targeted and killed in Pakistan in December and January.

The global health community is extremely close to eradicating polio globally through lifesaving vaccines, but a stubborn virus coupled with human opposition to erasing it from the planet continue to keep polio alive in Asia and Africa.

Learn more about how you can help end polio at www.endpolio.org.

UN Photo/Jawad Jalali

One Million Health Workers Slated to be Trained in Sub-Saharan Africa

While traveling on a long, remote road to a village in southern Ethiopia we noticed the vast amount of dust and sand covering the trees. Every person walking along the road wore a head scarf to keep the swirl of dust out of their eyes and mouths. But most importantly, the road was long – possible twenty miles – all uphill to the nearest street from the village that is nestled squarely, yet pristinely in the valley. The road was extensive even for a ride in a SUV.

Can you imagine trying to walk this road when giving birth?

You would be astonished by the range of long distances people are from their closest health clinic or hospital in developing countries. Every Mother Counts did a superb job of bringing that fact to life in their video, The Walk. Do give it a look. For many who live in rural areas in poor and middle-income countries frontline health workers are their only chance of receiving much-needed health care from vaccines and malaria treatment to maternal health and infant deliveries.

Yesterday at the World Economic Forum Director of the Earth Institute and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, and CEO of Novartis Joseph Jimenez announced the training of one million health workers in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The campaign will transform health care delivery across the continent and help some of the world’s poorest nations meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” said Sachs. “We are proud to be working with Novartis to launch this campaign and to work with African leaders to develop huge new cadres of community health workers to reach the rural populations.”

Frontline health workers form the backbone of health services for developing countries. Without them, most people would have no access to health care. You can read more about the one million health workers initiative on www.1millionhealthworkers.org. You can also read more about the work of health workers and why they are so important to the lives of people who live in the poorest countries in the world.

Photo and video copyright: Social Good Moms

Vote to Honor US Health Workers

traSave the Children along with Frontline Health Workers Coalition has created the REAL Awards where deserving United States-based health workers will be honored for the sacrifice and commitment they exhibit through their work. The nominations are in and the voting period has started. In fact, voting ends on January 7, 2013.

The Real Awards will honor and celebrate health workers in the following categories:

Winners will be announced on January 15 after voting ends on the January 7. You can vote once per day until the 7th.

Cast your vote at www.therealawards.com/vote for deserving health workers.

Photo: The REAL Awards

Counting Medical Supplies in Africa

In speaking to health workers while on an observation trip to Ethiopia this month with Save the Children I repeatedly asked about access to medial supplies – from family planning supplies to medications for malaria, for example – and every health worker in every village I asked said the supplies were plenty. They were quite nonchalant about my inquiries, in fact, which signaled to me that whatever medical supplies the health workers need they can get. Running water and health posts with electric power are entirely different stories, however.

While I am sure this isn’t the case everywhere, at the health posts and health centers we visited there were always enough supplies. At every health post and center I took quick peeks into the supply rooms to get a sense of the amount of medical and health supplies for the people the health workers served. I found the supplies to be adequate,  but of course that is coming from someone who doesn’t know the everyday ins and outs of the health posts and centers.

Below is a medical supply room at a health center in the southern region of Ethiopia. While I don’t know first-hand what a typical supply room should look like there were adequate amounts of medical supplies on hand in this health post and in the others we visited.


Ethiopia’s Health Care Model, Workers

Ethiopia has its health care flaws and challenges, but what it seems to have captured is an appreciation for simplicity. Ethiopia’s health care system is very easy to understand, even though implementation and results are not easily achievable.

This week I am in Ethiopia with Save the Children and its new campaign Every Beat Matters to observe frontline health workers and the programs that help them achieve the best outcomes with their patients.

Health Extension WorkersOn the community level, health extension workers (HEWs) primarily help expectant and new mothers, newborns, and children. They are trained to diagnose and treat pneumonia, malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea. They perform antenatal care and prevention and even deliver babies. And they also provide follow-up  care for new mothers.

This video explains how one mother’s baby had a fever and the health extension workers were able to provide immediate care for her.

In addition to health extension workers each community also has a health development army (HDA). These women are a volunteer unit that receives information, help, and health care services from the HEWs and spread the word throughout the community to benefit from the services of the health posts.

Health Development Army

If a patient has an acute illness that the health extension workers cannot treat women and children are referred to health centers where they have a better chance of being helped. And if there is a problem that a health center cannot help, a patient is referred to a district hospital like the Bishoftu hospital highlighted yesterday.

Bishoftu Hospital

Learn more about frontline health workers at Save the Children’s web site Every Beat Matters. Also, read about my first day in Ethiopia in My First Day in Ethiopia: An Army of Women Fight to Save Lives and Day 2: Food by Perscription.