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India: Awards for unsung health heroes

To mark the very first World Health Worker Week, I am highlighting some inspiring health workers that Save the Children has been working with around the world.

Today I wanted to feature two health workers who made a real impression on me when I visited India in January.

Reaching the community

I met Satyavati in Jahangipuri in north Delhi. It is a very poor and overcrowded place with very little infrastructure. There are only a few public health facilities in the area so residents are often faced with a difficult choice – dip into their limited earnings to pay for private clinics or just go without seeing a doctor or nurse.

Community health workers like Satyavati therefore play a really important role. They educate their neighbours on how to stay healthy and advise them on the different free health services that they are entitled to, such as nutrition supplements and family planning. They also encourage pregnant mothers to deliver babies in health facilities in case there are complications.

We followed Satyavati as she went door to door checking that children were up to date on their immunisations. People clearly trusted and listened to the advice that she gave them. She introduced me to her daughter, Antima, who was inspired to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

A new generation of health workers

Antima, 21, said that her biggest achievement as a community health worker was helping a girl to overcome anaemia. She could tell that the girl was very ill but it took a lot of effort to persuade her to go to hospital. It turned out that she needed an urgent blood transfusion. Now the girl is much better and Antima is very proud to have helped her.

There are so many unsung heroes like Satyavati and Antima – in India and around the world. As part of World Health Worker Week, many countries have organised award ceremonies for health workers who have made a big different in their communities.

Our colleagues in Save the Children India recently nominated Dr Ashish Satav for a ‘Real Award’ because of his work with rural tribes.

Watch this video about our recent trip to India and why greater investment in health is needed.

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