Tag Archives: health workers

Join Ashley Judd In Supporting Health Workers in Haiti

unnamed (1)By Ashley Judd, PSI Global Ambassador

Virgila is more charismatic and animated than most actors I know.

She’s a PSI-trained health worker on the outskirts of Port Au Prince, Haiti. And she’s passionate about her work. She goes door-to-door educating women about the benefits of reversible contraception like the IUD.

Giving birth is dangerous business for Haiti’s poor, who suffer the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere. To save the lives of mothers, we must ensure that we prevent unintended pregnancies from occurring.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to fund the efforts of PSI-trained health workers like Virgila. For a short time, your donation will be matched through a generous $200,000 challenge gift from PSI’s board of directors.

Virgila says, “I reach women wherever they are. I go door-to-door. I go to hospitals. I go to mother’s associations. I go to community meetings.”

She waves her arms, “There is so much need. It’s never ok to stop working. I want women to be able to have the number of children they want.”

Roslyne, a woman who arrived at the clinic today to get an IUD says, “Ms. Virgila knocked on my door one day. That’s why I’m here.” Roslyne — who ekes out a living for her family by selling spinach she grows — has five children, ages 13, ten, six, two and one. She didn’t know about the IUD before Virgila told her about it.

The work Virgila does changes people’s lives — plain and simple. Please join me and support the effective work of community health workers. For a short time, your donation will go twice as far through this generous challenge match.

Thank you.


Ashley Judd

P.S. Peter Singer says, “I recommend PSI because they focus on interventions with proven impact that help children survive the most serious health challenges they face — like a lack of family planning, HIV and AIDS.” Donate now.

Ashley Judd is a celebrated American actress and humanitarian. She became an ambassador for PSI in 2002 and served as a board member from 2004 to 2013.

Looking at Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision in the Field

Amos Emmanuel Kakere really wanted to undergo voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC).

A slight young man who looked far younger than his mere 24 years, Kakere, who is married and lives in Mhango village in Tanzania’s Shinyanga region, opted to undergo the procedure after seeing a large VMMC mobile field clinic near his village.

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The clinic, housed in a large, deployable tent and powered by a massive generator, with a waiting area and operating tables inside, was erected and run by IntraHealth International-trained health workers. The mobile clinic reaches 25,000 local men and young boys over the age of 10 from three villages who want to undergo VMMC but do not have access to nearby health facilities.

“I was passing nearby and heard there was a tent and asked what was being done,” Kakere said through translation. “I was anxious to get the service.”

Voluntary medical male circumcision is a common, 15- to 20-minute procedure that reduces HIV acquisition by 60 percent during heterosexual sex. VMMC is considered to be one of the easiest and most effective methods to reduce HIV transmission.

When I asked him how he felt about the procedure, Constantine gave a thumbs-up and simply said, “Poa,” which means “cool” in Swahili.

It’s been found, surprisingly, that women in sub-Saharan Africa tend to be excellent targets of VMMC messaging, as they encourage their partners to get circumcised and they understand that while not foolproof, a circumcised partner poses a lesser HIV threat than one who isn’t.

Village announcement campaigns also educate and bring in potential VMMC clients. Constantine Michael, 10, heard the announcement in his village and asked his older sister, Rosalea Michael, 19, to take him to IntraHealth’s mobile clinic.

“I heard from the announcement in the village,” Constantine said in a low, shy voice. “I asked my sister to bring me.”

Rosalea agreed to take Constantine to get the procedure, but only after explaining VMMC to him. When I met them, Constantine was waiting in line with other young boys to get tested for HIV and be counseled afterward before undergoing the procedure.

When I asked him how he felt about getting the procedure done, Constantine gave a thumbs-up and simply said, “Poa,” which means “cool” in Swahili.

IntraHealth, a global NGO that works in 90 countries and trains health workers to serve public health, works in Shinyanga, Simiyu, and Mara regions in northeast Tanzania to help the Ministry of Health reach the voluntary male circumcision targets set in 2009.

The main challenges are supply-chain management, governance, continuing education, and low pay for health workers.

The expectation is to successfully perform 200,098 voluntary male circumcision procedures by 2017 in these regions.

Located two hours outside Mwanza, Tanzania’s second-largest city, along dusty, bumpy, unpaved roads, IntraHealth’s mobile clinic in Shinyanga region has a daily capacity of 40 to 60 procedures.

Armed with CDC funding, IntraHealth works to effectively reduce the 7.4-percent HIV-prevalence rate in the three regions in which they work on VMMC. The HIV rate in these areas is higher than the nationwide average, making the scale-up and outreach of VMMC critical.

The Tanzanian government takes part in the human-resource side of regional VMMC projects and also pays health workers, explained Dr. Gissenge Liga, the head of the Clinical STI Unit and a national VMMC focal person. Yet there are still challenges that health workers who work on VMMC face.

Dr. Ntuli Kapologwe, a regional medical officer in Shinyanga, says the main challenges are supply-chain management, governance, continuing education, and low pay for health workers. “On the regional level people are competent,” Kapologwe said. “We are doing our best.”

Paying nothing for his circumcision because voluntary medical male circumcision is an HIV-prevention procedure, Amos Kakere underwent the relatively quick procedure inside the air-conditioned field clinic. Aside from the initial pain of the anesthesia shot, Kakere lay still on the operating table during the relatively painless procedure. He was given painkillers, instructed to return after three days for follow-up, and told to abstain from sex for six weeks in order for the circumcision to fully heal.

Voluntary medical male circumcision has made definite inroads in Tanzania through years of initial pilot projects, awareness and education campaigns, and a scale-up of VMMC services provided in health facilities and in mobile units. The approach seems to be working.

Before undergoing the procedure Kakere said, “I will encourage my friends. They shouldn’t be scared.”

Disclosure: I traveled to Tanzania as a guest of PSI to see their lifesaving work on the ground with health workers, as well as to see IntraHealth’s VMMC mobile clinic in Shinyanga region.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer James.

– See more at: http://www.intrahealth.org/blog/looking-voluntary-medical-male-circumcision-field#.VEZEDPnF8t4

Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think

Every day 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. That is 292,000 women too many each year. One of the ways in which this statistic can be reduced is by simply encouraging women in low- and middle-income countries to deliver in health facilities with skilled health workers. That sounds simple enough, but it has been challenging. The number of midwives in most sub-Saharan countries, for example, desperately needs to be scaled up and in some cases health facilities and hospitals are too far for women who live in the deepest rural areas to reach. In these cases many women still prefer delivering at home which, of course, poses untold dangers to her life and the life of her baby.

But there is an underlying factor that many don’t address nearly enough that perpetually forces women to choose delivery at home over a health facility: the harsh treatment they receive from nurses and midwives at the health facilities.

It has been documented time and again that African health workers in particular can be bluntly unsympathetic and insensitive to women who are in labor and delivery. Just listen to the health worker in this mini-documentary, Birth is a Dream. At 5:00 you hear a woman crying uncontrollably during delivery and then you hear the female health worker tell her harshly, “Excuse me, there is nothing to cry like that as if they are beating you. Will you relax? Let the midwife do what’s she’s supposed to do!”

Continue reading Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think

It’s Time for the REAL Awards Again

When I was in Zambia two months ago I met a phenomenal nurse, Susan Banda, who treats women who have cervical cancer in the N’Gombe compound in Lusaka. She diagnoses and treats twenty-five women a day and says that she is increasingly seeing more cases of cervical cancer, especially in women who are HIV positive.

Her work is so selfless I made a video about Banda and her work helping so many women.

Because there are so many amazing health workers around the world Save the Children and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition launched The REAL Awards last year, an award that celebrates the selfless work of health workers who span the globe.

Nine months ago members of our Global Team of 200 spread the word about the first ever REAL Awards. Now, we are happy to spread the word again about the REAL awards’ second year where  health workers both here and abroad will be celebrated, acknowledged and awarded for their tireless work to help others.

Today marks the nomination period for the REAL Awards. You can nominate the following types of health workers:

  • nurses
  • doctors
  • midwives
  • pharmacists
  • nurse practitioners
  • hospice care workers
  • physician assistants
  • community health workers
  • public health officers
  • and general health practitioners.

If you know a deserving health worker nominate him or her at therealwards.com by October 25, 2013. Good luck to them!

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.