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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs