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IntraHealth and PSI Team Up to Focus on Health Workers

Before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa became big news, we rarely heard the phrases “health systems” or “health workers” in the media. Most mainstream reporting on global health has tended to spotlight specific diseases or issues.

But then Ebola broke out.

At first the story was the same—detailed accounts of horrifying deaths and climbing infection numbers. Since March, the virus has killed over 2,800 people in West Africa, including 186 health workers. So far, it has defied the efforts of health officials and emergency aid organizations to contain it.

And so the story has begun to change.

It’s clear now that the suffering we see in Ebola-affected countries goes far beyond one terrible disease. The true challenge lies in the weak health systems that have allowed it to spread, and in the global shortage of health workers who could have stopped it.

The road to a healthier, more productive world is lined with health workers.

Containing Ebola, we now know, is about more than just donating latex gloves or helicoptering in to save the day. Trace the path of the outbreak through time and you’ll see all the forks in the road where history could have taken a different path—one where we didn’t see health workers murdered while delivering Ebola care in Guinea or while administering polio vaccines in Pakistan.

All too often, those safer routes are blocked by systemic obstacles.

At organizations such as IntraHealth International and PSI, we’ve been working for years to clear these roadblocks. And here’s what we’ve found:The road to a healthier, more productive world is lined with health workers.

A New Issue, a New FocusSo we’re thrilled to be teaming up with PSI to produce a new issue of Impact magazine devoted entirely to the health workforce.

The new issue covers not only the stories, struggles, and triumphs of real health workers around the world, but also sheds light on why those health workers are vital to all 7 billion of us—and how we can invest in them to create stronger health systems around the world.

A few highlights from the issue:

  • 7 Questions: Health Workers Count | Singer/songwriter, actress, and PSI Global Ambassador Mandy Moore poses seven big questions about the future of the global health workforce.
  • Interviews with Ministers of Health | Dr. Awa Coll-Seck, Minister of Health in Senegal, and Ousmane Koné, Minister of Health and Public Hygiene in Mali, talk about how health workers have had an impact on health and wellbeing in their countries—and more.
  • Focus on Health Workers | Meet Vidya, Flavie, Aston, and other frontline health workers from around the world.
  • 5 Techy Solutions for Health Systems | New technologies are making more data, training, and tools available to more health workers every day. These five technological game-changers make investments in the health workforce more effective than ever.
  • The Core of Health Solutions | Read the stories of three business owners who’ve had remarkable effects on health in Myanmar, Kenya, and Mozambique.
  • To Strengthen Health Systems, Invest in People | Technology is great, say Karl Hofmann and Pape Gaye (presidents and CEOs of PSI and IntraHealth, respectively), but we must also invest in the human beings who use it. “People—health workers in particular—are the ones who keep the long hours and walk the last mile armed with treatment, devices, and information,” they write.

We’ll keep clearing roadblocks until the path is forged.

But the magazine is just the beginning.

As we prepare for the Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town, South Africa, next week—where the theme will be “the science and practice of people-centered health systems”—we’ll keep asking the big questions.

And we’ll keep clearing roadblocks until the path is forged.

Read the health worker issue of Impact magazine. And join the conversation.