Every Hour of Every Day, Health Workers Are on the Job for Us

What did you do last time you had the flu? You probably went to a local clinic or doctor’s office. Your memories of the visit may be a little fuzzy because you were sick and exhausted and just wanted to go back to your bed. But think hard—remember the health workers who gave you the care and medicine you needed?

This week, we’re celebrating them. In fact, we’re celebrating health workers all over the world in honor of World Health Worker Week.

Every day, doctors, nurses, midwives, community health workers, pharmacists, clinical officers, ASHAs, and many others face on-the-job challenges and risks, all so they can help care for their communities. These health workers are the key to creating a healthier, more productive, more prosperous world. And while we focus on health workers every day at IntraHealth, we’re especially excited to celebrate them during this first-ever World Health Worker Week.

So to help you get in the spirit, here are half a dozen of our favorite health worker stories from the past year:

“You Never Think It Will Happen to You”: Health Workers Confront the Risks of Tuberculosis

Patricia Bond, Bart Willems, and Arne von Delft all have two things in common. First, they’re all health workers by training. Second, they’re all survivors of tuberculosis, a disease they contracted while on the job in South Africa. Now they’re members of an advocacy team called TB Proof, working to educate their colleagues, students, and the people they serve about the occupational risks health workers face—and how they can protect themselves while caring for others. Read more »

Star of Senegal: A Midwife Fights for Affordable Family Planning

As a midwife in Yeumbeul, Senegal, Aïssatou Dia Fall is working to make family planning more affordable to everyone, especially those in the impoverished suburbs of Dakar. By enlisting the help of local government and a local health committee to cover administrative and consultation costs at her clinic, Aïssatou can now provide contraceptives to even her poorest clients. Strategies like hers are helping to improve not only Senegal’s national contraceptive prevalence rate—only 12%—but also its maternal mortality rate, which is one of the highest in the world. Read more »

Making House Calls for India’s Mothers and Babies

When Vidya became an accredited social health activist (or ASHA), the village of Alipura gained a primary link to the public health system. But Vidya also found a career. “Earlier I was locked up inside the house like any other daughter-in-law of the village,” she says. “But since I undertook this role of being an ASHA, it has increased everyone’s respect for me. The community trusts me when I go door to door and I love my work.” Now Vidya makes house calls, cares for new and expectant mothers, and teaches her neighbors in Alipura about nutrition, hygiene, and basic sanitation. Read more »

Northern Mali’s Nursing Students Are Learning Fast—Because They Must

When armed rebels attacked the city of Gao in northern Mali last year, many health workers fled. Some, though, stayed behind, including many nursing students. These fledgling health workers faced a cruel type of on-the-job training—responding to medical emergencies they were not fully trained to handle in facilities that had far too few supplies and resources. But without those students, the situation would have been even direr for the people of the remote north. Read more »

Meet Aparna, Mumbai’s Teenage Sex Educator

Aparna isn’t a health worker yet—she’s only sixteen, after all. But already she’s teaching sex-ed to other teenagers and preparing for a career in gynecology specifically catering to sex workers. Aparna knows the nightmare many sex workers in India face when they become pregnant: scorn, neglect, or even abuse from whatever doctors will agree to see them. There’s seldom any dignity or respect in the care they receive. Aparna knows because her own mother went through it. Read more »

Spotlight on Health Workers: Uganda

And finally, make sure to read about our health worker awardees in Uganda. Professor Francis Omaswa, Teddy Tiberimbwaku, Dennis Tabula, and the entire Yumbe District Hospital team have made tremendous contributions to Uganda’s health care system. They’re role models not only for their coworkers, but for future generations of Ugandan health workers. And their passion, commitment, and resourceful determination leave us in awe.
Read more »