Every Thursday here on Impatient Optimists, you’ll find stories, written by one of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s 30 member organizations, about the inspiring work of health workers on the front lines of care in developing countries and how United States leadership can help ensure that everyone has access to basic care by skilled, supported and motivated frontline health workers.
At AMREF, an international organization based in Kenya with a vision of lasting health change in Africa, we were thrilled and so proud to learn last year that one of the thousands of health workers we train or whose skills we upgrade through our eLearning, mHealth or onsite programs, was selected to receive one of the first, global REAL Awards for the work they do as a REAL person on the frontlines of health care.
We were over the moon last week though when we witnessed the great joy and celebration of the REAL Awards presentation to Esther Madudu, an AMREF-trained midwife in Katine, rural Uganda, to celebrate and honor the lifesaving work she performs every day. We were especially moved to see the recognition and importance accorded to all frontline health workers through the participation of the Ugandan Minister for Health herself at this joyous event.
Esther works in a remote, poorly equipped health center, often under harsh conditions. Without electricity, Esther has been known at times to hold her cell phone in her mouth to light up night time deliveries. Esther and her one midwife colleague are among the few skilled and trained professionals able to deliver babies and look after moms who come not only from the immediate area, but often walk for miles from surrounding villages.
This past week though, Esther’s health center was a place of joyous celebration and support for frontline health workers. The event was a full-blown celebration not only of Esther and her lifesaving work, but also of her colleagues at the health center, family members and the many levels of government (national, regional and district) with which AMREF partners to ensure health services reach those in need in remote communities throughout Uganda.
The Ugandan Minister of Health herself, the Hon. Dr. Christine Ondoa, presented Esther with her REAL Award which was presided over by Uganda’s Deputy Minister for Health and AMREF’s country director in Uganda, Dr. Abenet Berhanu, along with the deputy country director, Dr. Susan Wandera.
“(Esther’s award) is a signal that health workers in Uganda should know that we do recognize their excellent work,” Dr. Ondoa said during the ceremony. Esther herself was just thrilled and can be seen in the television coverage dancing with her colleagues while holding her REAL Award high in the air. “The REAL Award has finally been delivered to me at my work place so I’m really glad,” she said with a big smile. Esther also expressed gratitude to her colleagues and more so to her mother for the support she has given Esther enabling her to carry out her work efficiently.
Overall it was a terrific day with entertainment provided by the local Village Health Team members who are beneficiaries of AMREF’s Katine Community Project. The event was comprehensively covered by NTV Uganda, a popular national TV station, along with other local media.
The REAL Awards celebration in Uganda last week was just that – a lot of dancing, refreshments and overall jubilation to pause and take a moment to honor and celebrate frontline health workers everywhere whose dedication and commitment to their work is literally lifesaving.