News / Africa

New Coalition Promotes Investment in Health Workers

Health worker (right) walks with a mother and her child in Satiguila, Mali.
Health worker (right) walks with a mother and her child in Satiguila, Mali.
Joe DeCapua

Sixteen major non-governmental organizations have launched a new initiative to add one million health care workers in developing countries.

The new Frontline Health Workers Coalition says training more community-level workers is the most cost effective way to save lives, speed progress on global health threats and promote U.S. economic and strategic interests.

“Around the world, addressing the kind of basic killers of children, for example, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and the problems that parents face, including moms who die in pregnancy and childbirth, women and men affected by HIV/AIDS. All of those people need one absolute thing to improve their condition. And that is having a health worker close to them,” said coalition chair Mary Beth Powers.

Powers is also the head of Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival Campaign.

“The goal is really to put a million of these frontline health workers on the ground in the next four years by the end of the period where we’re measuring progress against the Millennium Development Goals. And we’re asking the U.S. government to contribute one quarter of those, which is 250,000 additional health workers where they’re most needed,” she said.

The U.S. is already heavily involved in training health workers through its development agency, USAID, and the National Institutes of Health. Training and funding would also come from major corporations and other donor countries.

Saving lives

Powers said frontline workers include community health workers, midwives, village pharmacists, physicians’ assistants, nurses and doctors who work in community-level clinics. She said they save lives.

“Every year, for example, 7 and a half million children die, many from preventable or treatable causes. And a million health workers reaching those children could dramatically reduce those deaths each year,” she said.

She added they’re a big reason why child mortality has declined 37 percent in the last 20 years.

Angela Nguku is a midwife in Kenya and coordinator for AMREF, the African Medical and Research Foundation. She said training more health care workers would have a major beneficial effect in her country.

“We are going to be saving lives. We are going to be stopping the disabilities and the deaths that we have seen. And at the end of the day we are going to see families united, children going to school, children growing up to maturity because they’re not going to die because of diseases that could be prevented if we had health workers. And we are going to see more economically empower nations because if I’m healthy, I’m strong. Then I’m able to work and be productive for the nation,” she said.

Overwhelming

Nguku works in many of Kenya’s hard-pressed areas, such as Turkana. That northern region, which is normally dry, was baked and parched by a long, severe drought. Sometimes, she said, she feels overwhelmed by a community’s medical needs.

“I just watch and see helplessly because I am attending to this particular mother and there’s a child there convulsing because they have malaria or pneumonia. I have a mother coming for immunization maybe for tetanus because she’s pregnant or even another mother who’s bleeding who has delivered, but I cannot leave this particular one. Sometimes I wish I had extra hands to attend to this particular mother, but I’m not able to do so because I am the only one in the facility and they have so many patients waiting for me,” she said.

Nguku said more health workers would help Kenya reach the Millennium Development Goals and help the country grow in general.

Frontline Health Workers Coalition chair Mary Beth Powers describes those community health workers as heroes.

“They really walk the walk. And I think I’m personally, as a public health person, inspired by the service that these people provide to their communities often without a great deal of thanks, often with very low salaries or sometimes as volunteers,” she said.

The coalition includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Family Care International, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care and RESULTS.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid