Credit: World Health Organization
They are caretakers. They are educators. They are your neighbors, friends, and family. Without them, there would be no health services for millions of families worldwide
Health workers are at the forefront of the fight against many diseases both the clinicians adorned with the white coat and the community health officers visiting homes to educate the public on disease prevention. These men and women are our heroes. Read more about the field activities of Alert Officers working to ensure early detection and apt response to disease outbreaks in rural communities.
When Ebola came to Nigeria, it was a healthcare worker that saved the day. Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh stood the line and helped to save millions of people, not just in Nigeria, but all over the world. In Liberia, it was a young Nursing Assistant, Salome Karwah, who saved the day and helped thousands of people avoid the Ebola scourge.
Every day, in hospitals across Nigeria, doctors, nurses, lab scientists, health extension workers, pharmacists, cleaners, work very long hours, under poor standards, for very little pay, to save Nigerian lives. They are all our heroes and it is our collective responsibility to show we are grateful for their work and their sacrifice.
Health workers, most of them often overlooked and underappreciated, make the healthcare we receive a possibility
In Nigeria, there is only 1 doctor to 6,000 patients as opposed to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 patients. The few health workers available stay in Nigeria while they watch their colleagues leave the country for other more lucrative places.
Also, health workers in the developing world face dangers outside of the assumed health risks associated with caring for the sick. Over the years, there have been several instances of health workers falling victim to violent crimes such as kidnapping and murder. In 2013, nine health workers vaccinating children in Kano were gunned down by militants suspected to be part of terrorist organization, Boko Haram. At a press conference hosted in February 2018, representatives from the Nigeria Medical Association, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the Medical and Health Workers Union reported that 13 health workers had been abducted while carrying out their duties.
Not only do Nigerian health workers have to deal with the possibility of violence, they are often overworked, underpaid and neglected.
Nigeria is simultaneously experiencing a population boom and a health worker brain drain, issues exacerbating the already dire shortage of health workers. If left unaddressed, health worker scarcity could have devastating effects should an epidemic breakout in our country. Investment in and care for health workers is in all our best interests.
Started by Frontline Health Workers Coalition five years ago, World Health Workers Week aims to mobilize all stakeholders in support of health workers. World Health Worker Week is only seven days, but you can take action and make a difference year round.