Is there a health care worker you know who has saved your life?
Someone like Esther Madudu, pictured above, a midwife in rural Uganda who often delivers babies in the middle of the night by the light of her mobile phone screen because her clinic has no power?
Or the team of neonatal doctors and nurses at the Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital in Texas, who, eighteen years ago, saved the life of Kate McCasland, using a simple technique called Kangaroo Mother Care? Check out this picture of Kate as a baby, and today, with her mom Jane:
Even if your story is not this dramatic, you can nominate a health worker who has made a difference in your life, for a REAL Award.
The REAL Awards, a first-of-its-kind global awards program, was established this year by Save the Children and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition to recognize and honor the remarkable deeds of health workers in the United States and around the world.
“Every year, awards are given to recognize the accomplishments of celebrities, actors, singers, athletes and entertainers,” explains Mary Beth Powers, Campaign Chief for Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival Campaign. “Alongside the Oscars and Golden Globes in January, we will begin to honor a group of people who rarely receive recognition or accolades — health workers.”
There is a worldwide shortage of more than five million health workers, including one million on the front lines of care, Save the Children reports. Save the Children estimates that every three seconds, a child’s death is prevented thanks to a frontline health worker. Whether in Africa or America’s inner cities, these community health workers are often the first and only link to care for millions of people, especially those living in rural areas and the developing world. Studies show that community health workers can have a huge and lasting impact.
Esther Madudu and Kate McCasland may live oceans and worlds apart, but they share a common story. Both were born prematurely, and neither was expected to survive. Esther’s mother had all but given up hope, but the traditional midwife who assisted in Esther’s birth was determined to save her life. As the story goes, “they weren’t going to throw this little thing away,” the midwife said.
Kate’s mother Jane learned about Kangaroo Mother Care (which involves a mother holding her bare baby to her chest) while she watched a television documentary set in Africa one sleepless night in the hospital. When Jane proposed the idea to Kate’s doctors, they balked, but, as Jane recounts, a few nights later, a nurse came up to her and said “Now’s the time.” Kate, who weighed in at just one pound seven ounces, gained an ounce that night. Four months later Kate went home on her due date.
Jane fully believes Kate survived “thanks to Kangaroo Mother Care, ‘one gutsy nurse’ and the medical team who quickly supported the method once they saw how effective it was,” Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles wrote in the Huffington Post. “They learned from Kate’s case [and] applied that to helping other babies.”
That Esther has dedicated her life to midwifery, and that Kate plans to become a neonatal nurse as a way of thanking the health workers who saved her life, is nothing short of inspirational.
As Save the Children notes, many frontline health workers “don’t have all the support and supplies that they need to do their jobs well, and hundreds of thousands more are needed to end preventable deaths and to tackle the challenges of chronic diseases that need to be managed regularly.”
The REAL Awards are a real way to bring attention to this critical issue.
You can nominate a health worker who has impacted your life at www.REALawards.com through Thursday, November 29. Or check out the website to read about the global nominees.
From November 30th through January 7th you will be able to cast your vote for the most inspirational health workers in each of eight categories: newborn and mother care, pediatric care, chronic disease care, hospice care, emergency care, veteran care, in-home care and general health care.
The U.S. winners will be announced on January 16, 2013.
And in the meantime, take a look at this video about the awards:
Photo credit: AMREF