This was originally published at Politico.
People often ask me what the global health community can do to have more impact. The answer is easy: We could be more like Tsion Berhanu.
I met Berhanu the last time I visited Ethiopia. My colleagues and I drove to the end of the road, then kept going for 15 more minutes, until we reached the Wuye Gosee Community Health Post, a tiny, three-room, concrete structure with an outhouse.
Berhanu lived in one room and worked in the other two — caring for 1,500 people in her kebele. Women came to her for contraceptives. When they stopped using birth control and got pregnant, they came for pre-natal care. When their babies were born, she gave advice about proper nutrition. When children got a little older, she immunized them. When people were sick, she treated them if she could and referred them to the district hospital if it was serious. She also advised families on how to store clean water and build sanitary pit latrines.
This is how health care is experienced and addressed on the ground. The community of donors, agencies and NGOs dedicated to better health for the poorest— including our foundation— has access to many more resources than Berhanu. What we don’t always do is drive conversation and innovation that can reflect her experience and perspective.
Like Berhanu, we can combine our interventions in strategic ways to help families build the healthy and prosperous future they want. Each component of success builds on the next. A woman who can determine how many children she has is better able to provide them with adequate nutrition, which means they are better able to pay attention in school, which means they better able to find a good job and raise children who are better off than their parents were.
That’s why I am involved with the Call to Action of Child Survival, meeting this week. The U.S. Agency for International Development, UNICEF and the governments of Ethiopia and India are hosting this conference of 700 global health practitioners and policymakers.
Read the rest at Politico