Hanna Konadu, 25, is a community health officer in Ghana. Hanna and thousands of other community health workers like her have helped Ghana raise its immunization coverage to more than 90 percent, protecting millions of children against measles, pneumonia, polio, and other diseases.
Hanna spoke with Impatient Optimists about her work.
Why did you want to become a health worker?
When I was a child, I used to stay with my grandma, and one day she took ill, and I took her to the hospital. The nurse we met was so good to us that I thought I want to do this for people to appreciate me when I grow up. I also liked their uniforms, I said, “Wow, these people look good, that’s nice.” So the uniform, the care the nurse gave my grandma, it inspired to me.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
What I like most about my job is going to the hard to reach communities to weigh the babies, give them immunizations, and then give them health information so that they can live a healthy life.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is trying to convince the community members to accept the services I have to offer them.
How do you overcome this resistance?
We meet with the mothers and try to explain the importance of vaccination to them. Some of their husbands don’t want them to come, so I will try to speak to the husbands to convince them. I try to tell them it’s good to let your child take this injection to protect them.
How has Ghana’s health care system changed in your lifetime?
There has been a great change in the health system, when I was a child and now. When my mother gave birth, my mother had to travel for immunization sessions. Sometimes she would get there, and they would tell her that they were out of vaccines. But now the mother doesn’t move. The nurses move. We go there to give them the services. Community health nurses are so important in Ghana because they live in the communities. They give the vaccinations, they counsel mothers on their health needs, and they see to the welfare of children under five. So there has been a tremendous change. It’s a great change.
When you get each morning what gets you motivated for work?
When I’m putting on my uniform, I have a special music I play. It’s like praising song, telling God that I thank him so much for letting me wear this uniform I loved so much when I was a kid. And I try to look at myself in the mirror for like a hundred times. I laugh with it. I try to walk and see myself in the uniform, and that makes me happy.
How does your community view you and your work?
They say good name is better than riches. So I want my community to see me that I’m offering the services from my heart, as somebody who has passion and will not rest until she sees that your child is healthy.