Frontline Health Workers

  • Blog post

    As we wrap up the second annual World Health Worker Week, we hear from Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez in an article that originally appeared on the Huffington Post's Global Motherhood Blog in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, reminds us not to take health workers for granted. Health workers are integral to achieving two of USAID's major global health priorities—ending preventable child and maternal deaths and reaching an AIDS-free generation. In November, K4Health's Angela Nash-Mercado and Sarah Harlan had the opportunity to visit health clinics in Ethiopia to see the Health Extension Worker program, which employs two female health workers at every health post. Largely viewed as instrumental in achieving gains in infant health and contraceptive prevalence, much work remains to be done. Many of K4Health's tools are designed for health workers—including Toolkits, the Global Health eLearning Center, and Global Health: Science and Practice.

    Huffington Post Global Motherhood in Partnership with Johnson & Johnson

    Huffington Post Global Motherhood in Partnership with Johnson & Johnson

    When was the last time you thanked your health care provider? We often forget how much care, guidance and support they give, and the sacrifices they make to restore us to good health. Health workers -- whether a doctor, nurse, midwife or physician's assistant -- are an integral part of a well-functioning health system and necessary for the delivery of quality health care not only in the United States, but all around the world. As the world comes together to celebrate World Health Worker Week, we are reminded of the critical role health workers play both in the developed world as well as some of the poorest countries plagued with an unimaginable shortage of health services and limited access to care.

  • Blog post

    For thousands of people living in rural Bangladesh, Health Assistants (HAs) and Family Welfare Assistants (FWAs)—collectively called field workers—are the first line of health care, and for many, the only cadre of health professional they have access to for health, population and nutrition (HPN) information and services. It therefore becomes very important that these field workers have the necessary skills and confidence to provide quality counseling services.

    Field Workers in Bangladesh with their Netbooks

    Field workers in Bangladesh with their netbooks.

    Credit: Vanessa Mitchell

    The Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) implemented an eHealth pilot whereby 300 field workers (150 HAs and 150 FWAs), mostly women, received netbook computers loaded with digital resources (brochures, flipcharts, videos, job aids, etc.) and eLearning courses to facilitate HPN counseling and also improve their own knowledge. The results are in, and knowledge levels for both FWs and mothers in communities increased dramatically across HPN during the short 3.5 month implementation period.

    Just as important, and not a finding we necessarily expected, is that the netbooks empowered the field workers. During our routine monitoring, the research team conducted interviews with FWs and found that having the technology and a wealth of information at their fingertips made them feel proud, confident, and important. In fact, the elevated confidence observed from having the netbook actually changed how members of the community perceived them. Their improved social status resulted in more people seeking out HPN services from them.

  • Blog post
    Female Community Health Volunteers in Nepal

    Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) in Nepal pretest materials developed for the distance education Radio Health Program (RHP), promoting key behaviors related to Family Planning and Maternal Health.

    © 2004 Khemraj Shrestha, Courtesy of Photoshare

    During the second annual World Health Worker Week, April 7-11, 2014, we are celebrating the women and men who save lives and raising awareness of health workforce issues. This post by Ram Shrestha and Rhea Bright, originally appearing on the USAID ASSIST Project's Blog, explains the integral role community health workers play in increasing service coverage - and ultimately achieving universal health coverage.

    In this post, Rhea Bright interviews Dr. Ram Shrestha.

    As a health professional, whenever I visit a rural village in a low-or middle-income country, several thoughts come to mind. Knowing that the formal health system usually ends at a health center, dispensary, or health post in these rural communities, does everyone in this village have access to health services? How can we ensure that there are enough health workers in nearby facilities to provide needed services? Are there community health workers (CHWs) in this village, and are they well supported? I started thinking more and more about these questions as World Health Worker Week (April 7-11, 2014) approached…consequently even more questions came to mind.

  • Blog post
    Auxiliary nurse midwife in village clinic

    An auxiliary nurse midwife at a village clinic in Jharkhand, India.

    © 2012 Margaret D'Adamo, Courtesy of Photoshare

    During the second annual World Health Worker Week, April 7-11, 2014, we are celebrating the women and men who save lives and raising awareness of health workforce issues. This post by M. Rashad Massoud and Diana Frymus, originally appearing on the USAID ASSIST Project's Blog, explains why supporting health workers strengthens entire health systems.

    This week we appreciate and celebrate those at the frontline of our health systems.  With that, let us recognize that there are critical health workforce shortages (7.2 million) which are set to increase to an even higher level of 12.9 million in 20 years.  Although many countries have made progress in setting national policies and plans to strengthen the workforce, implementation has been weak and progress has not kept pace with expectations, manifesting in low health worker morale, absenteeism, and high turnover.

  • Blog post

    During the second annual World Health Worker Week, April 7-11, 2014, we are celebrating the women and men who save lives and raising awareness of health workforce issues. This post by Julia Nakad of K4Health partner Hesperian Health Guides shares their recent experience evaluating a safe pregnancy and birth app among health workers in Chiapas, Mexico. For most of the community health workers, midwives, clinic staff, and community members in the rural region, this was their first time using a mobile health app.

    Safe Pregnancy and Birth App Field Tested by Health Workers in Chiapas

    Safe Pregnancy and Birth App Field Tested by Health Workers in Chiapas

    Credit: Hesperian Health Guides

    Chiapas is one of the most marginalized and rural regions of Mexico, and faces unique barriers to improving maternal and child health. According to The Global Pediatric Alliance, Chiapas is plagued with a maternal death rate which is four times the average of the rest of the nation. The majority of the population lives below the poverty line, and with a 25% illiteracy rate, residents face significant challenges accessing quality preventative medical care and information.

    Fortunately, thanks to the work of Compañeros en Salud (CES),a sister branch of Partners in Health, local health care providers are receiving training and medical supplies, and are able to reach out to more patients than ever before through home visits.

  • Blog post

    During the second annual World Health Worker Week, April 7-11, 2014, we are celebrating the women and men who save lives. Sarah Dwyer and Carol Bales, from K4Health partner IntraHealth International, recently wrote this post for the Vital Blog. In it, frontline health worker Kenechanh Chanthapadith laments he doesn’t have enough time to obtain more knowledge to do his job better. K4Health’s Global Health eLearning Center offers no-cost, self-paced, Internet-based courses in 11 programs. Courses can be printed out and studied offline, so professionals like Chanthapadith can learn at learn at their own pace, and when it’s convenient for them.

    “I love my job!” says one enthusiastic health worker in Laos. And he backs up his statement with a solid reason: “I like to save my patient’s life.” 

  • Blog post

    During the second annual World Health Worker Week, April 7-11, 2014, we are celebrating the women and men who save lives. Sarah Dwyer, from K4Health partner IntraHealth International, recently wrote this post for the Frontline Health Workers Coalition about a group of health workers in Uganda who, after taking a six-month leadership and management course, advocated for better infrastructure, new management systems, and even continuing medical education.

    Uganda strengthens health service delivery by focusing on the people who provide quality care

    Agnes Masagawyi provides integrated HIV and family planning counseling to a client in Mbale, Uganda

    Agnes Masagawyi provides integrated HIV and family planning counseling to a client in Mbale, Uganda.

    Courtesy Carol Bales, CapacityPlus/IntraHealth International

    “What inspires me is when I see patients critically ill and then recovering, laughing, smiling—I feel great,” says Agnes Masagwayi, a senior clinical health officer in Mbale District, Uganda. “I love my job with all my heart.”

    But her health facility, she admits, was in “a bad state.” Running water was sporadic. Essential drugs ran out. Space for maternity care was so limited that many women delivered babies on the floor. Infection control was poor. And there weren’t nearly enough health workers to meet the demand.

    In Mbale District only 337 of 708 health worker positions were staffed. Throughout the country, all districts faced similar shortages.

  • Blog post
    Nigerian Medical Laboratory Scientist Anthony Edika performing a test

    Nigerian Medical Laboratory Scientist Anthony Edika performing a test.

    Credit: Anthony Edika

    Since I joined K4Health almost two years ago, I have had the privilege of working with the Association of Medical Laboratory Science of Nigeria (AMLSN) and the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN). They represent a category of health professionals who I scarcely knew existed before. 

    In The hidden profession that saves lives Rodney Rohde, Professor & Associate Dean for Research at Texas State University, describes the role that medical laboratory professionals play:

    Have you ever wondered who conducts the detailed laboratory testing for your annual exam, such as cholesterol and glucose levels, and analyzes the results? Or who conducts specialized testing for genetic disorders like sickle cell disease? How about those who identify an antibiotic resistant infection like Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and determine which antibiotic is required to save someone's life? Well, if you thought that it was your physician, or perhaps a nurse or someone else you see at your doctor's office or in the hospital, you would be incorrect.

  • Blog post
    The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels

    The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels.

    Source: Benjamin D. Henning, Views of the World

    World Health Worker Week 2014 is April 7-11. This is “a time to celebrate the amazing work that health workers do and raise awareness of the challenges that they face every day.” The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 23 health workers for every 10,000 people. The cartogram to the right illustrates the world’s health worker needs proportionally by country: The larger a country’s apparent size, the greater its need for more health workers to meet recommended levels. (Source)

    K4Health’s activities and products are all intended to strengthen health systems and benefit health workers—whether we are handing a community health worker a netbook loaded with health education materials, or maintaining a global repository of family planning knowledge and making it accessible to anyone at anytime, or helping a ministry of health figure out where the knowledge gaps are in their national system.

  • Blog post

    This post, originally appearing on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition Blog, is by Julia Nakad at Hesperian Health Guides. Hesperian, a K4Health partner, publishes Where There Is No Doctor, “the most widely-used health care manual for health workers, educators, and others involved in primary health care and health promotion around the world.” Photoshare recently collaborated with Hesperian and Business for Social Responsibility’s HERproject to create illustrations based on photos that can be custom health education training materials.

    High in the Andes, the organization DESEA Peru has relied on images to improve local health outcomes. The group found creative ways to use images as a training resource with community health workers locally known as “qhalis” – from the Quechua expression “qhali’kaypac llank’sun,” meaning “working for health.” During the last six years, the qhalis have transformed their community, struggling against a higher-than-average infant mortality rate to successfully eradicate maternal and child deaths caused by preventable illnesses.

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