Mary Beth Powers of Save the Children puts the spotlight on the men and women who help keep rural communities healthy in Africa.
One of the best things about my role directing Save the Children’s child survival campaign is the chance to get out to the field and follow around real life health workers who are saving lives. Often with a sixth or maybe 10th grade education, these women and men agree to be trained to prevent disease and to treat childhood illnesses. And every day, they enjoy the satisfaction of the fact that their community is healthier, and children are enjoying a greater chance of surviving the risky first months and years of life.
Expanding access to the known and cost-effective tools that save lives like vaccines requires the presence of skilled health care workers. Ethiopia has made it a national priority to train health extension workers to provide immunizations, treatment for childhood infections, family planning and other basic health care interventions from health posts, and also by walking around the community. I love this video our team captured about Aster, a health worker in rural Ethiopia who not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. Without her work, I wonder what might happen to the hundred-plus children in the area around her health post.
Aster’s efforts remind us that vaccines and medicines require this human element to ensure delivery to the small children we need to protect from unnecessary illness. The GAVI Alliance and their partners team up to make sure that vaccines are more accessible through increasing both the supplies of vaccines and of health workers to immunize the children. It is a great partnership that is saving lives every day around the world.
Thanks GAVI and thanks Aster for going the distance.
-Mary Beth Powers, Save the Children