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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora