Health Extension Workers train hundreds of other women in their communities, empowering them to make informed decisions for their families and completely transforming the health profile of the region.
By By Erin Gilchrist (Huffpost) |
At a small health post in the village of Mirab, Ethiopia, a bright-eyed, chubby-cheeked infant named Bontu is placed on a scale. His mother looks on proudly as Aynalem, a Health Extension Worker who seems to take equal pride in Bontu’s wellbeing, records his healthy measurements. Despite living in one of the most drought-prone and food insecure regions in Ethiopia, Bontu is growing into a healthy, well-nourished child.
Aynalem’s pride stems from the deep transformation she has seen in her community during her eight years as a Health Extension Worker. Her face lights up as she reflects on that time: “There are so many changes. When I first came here, mothers were not following antenatal care, and so many children were malnourished. But now these things are really changing.”
RESULTS Canada recently led an educational delegation to Ethiopia to give Members of Parliament a firsthand understanding of Canada’s role in this transformation. MPs Yasmin Ratansi, Iqra Khalid, and Matt Jeneroux visited health posts and health centers, and observed training sessions led by Health Extension Workers.
We learned about the lifesaving value of nutritional supplements UNICEF supplies to malnourished children. We watched dozens of women gather under a tree to learn from a Health Extension Worker about giving their children the best start in life through Grand Challenges Canada’s Saving Brains program, implemented by the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada. We heard testimonials from adolescent girls about the transformative power of Nutrition International’s Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation programming. Many adolescent girls feel “stronger and more healthy” after starting the program, noting that their attendance and performance at school have improved since anaemia no longer makes them feel dizzy and exhausted.