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Policy Champion Rep. Lowey Takes Up Frontline Health Workers Cause

This post was originally published by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.

The world has achieved unprecedented successes in global health in recent decadesIn just over 20 years, child deaths have dropped by nearly 40 percent. The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34 percent in a decade, and the global rate of new HIV infections has fallen 25%. These gains would not have been possible without investments in frontline health workers.

Frontline health workers are finally getting the recognition they deserve in the U.S. Congress. On Wednesday, July 18, Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced H. Res. 734, a resolution recognizing the importance of frontline health workers to accelerating progress on global health, saving the lives of women and children, and enabling millions to lead healthier, more productive lives.

The resolution acknowledges the role that frontline health workers have played in getting health services to those in need, especially in rural and other under-served communities. They are productive members of their communities because midwife helped them give birth, a nurse gave them their shots, or a community health worker taught them about breastfeeding, hand washing, or birth spacing.

The resolution also recognizes that now is the time to do more for increasing access to frontline health workers. In June, the U.S. along with 56 other governments, pledged to end child deaths from preventable causes such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia. This month, over 20,000 people are gathering in Washington, DC to discuss how to get to zero deaths and zero new infections from HIV. Reaching these ambitious goals will not be possible without more frontline health workers and making sure the existing health workers are empowered and have the training, equipment and support they need.

The resolution commends the efforts of the U.S. government  train and support health workers including midwives, community health workers, doctors, nurses, lab technicians and others who are in short supply around the world, creating employment and healthier families. However, it also notes that more can be done.

As U.S. global health programs have become more integrated and coordinated on the ground, it has become increasingly necessary to better coordinate efforts to train and support health workers across programs to ensure that together, they are helping build sustainable, effective health systems. It has also become necessary to increase efforts on focusing on training, equipping, and deploying more frontline health workers to ensure successes in global health are maintained and that progress continues.

The resolution calls on all U.S. government agencies, including U.S. Agency for International Development, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of State to develop a coordinated and comprehensive health workforce strategy that focuses on increasing equitable access to health workers in developing countries, especially frontline health workers. This will help increase the impact of US government investments not only by improving internal coordination, but perhaps more importantly, by helping ensure that they are aligned with partner country plans and coordinated with other donors, the private sector, and civil society organizations who all engage in this field.

We commend Representative Nita Lowey for helping raising the profile of frontline health workers in Congress. Please help frontline health works gain the attention they deserve by helping support H. Res. 734. They are the unsung heroes delivering the results we all celebrate.