Health in Nigeria has been steadily improving throughout the years. However, despite these improvements, the average life expectancy for Nigerians is still below the global average. The major causes of mortality and morbidity among Nigerians (neonatal disorders, diarrheal diseases, malaria, lower respiratory infections, congenital birth defects, and HIV/AIDS) have proven to be preventable through simple and cost-effective interventions. However, gaining access to these interventions can prove difficult for many Nigerians. There are too few medical personnel to cover the rapidly growing population, with only 3.8 doctors per 10,000 people. Furthermore, of the 3,543 healthcare centers in the country, only 950 are public infrastructures. Private healthcare, while of high quality, comes at a cost that most Nigerians simply cannot afford.
How to Bridge the Gap
This is where International H.E.L.P. comes in. By working alongside established local organizations to bring Community Health Worker Training programs to local communities, we hope to bridge this access gap so every Nigerian is able to receive quality care. Ideally, healthcare services should go directly to where they’re needed most: a door-to-door service. The Community Health Workers we train would be able to provide just this service. We also believe it is imperative to bring the voices of the community into our programs. They, as primary stakeholders, know best what is needed in their community and how to mobilize resources to bring about positive change for healthier communities. Only together can we build an impactful and sustainable program so families can live healthy lives.
This year, we have been able to provide three training sessions for Community Health Workers (CHWs) and we have two more on the schedule before 2022 is over! Here is a brief rundown of what we’ve accomplished this year and what’s still to come:
January – Guarnecia and Chilcuyo, El Salvador: Trained 27 CHWs
March – Syria: Trained 10 CHWs virtually
June – Bendicion de Dios and La Y Griega, El Salvador: Trained 23 CHWs
November – Gracias a Dios & El Zamarano, Honduras: Trained 55 CHWs
December – Urban & Rural Gwanda, Zimbabwe: Training an estimated 40 CHWs
If all goes as planned, at the end of 2022 we will have trained in four countries and have roughly 155 new CHW’s. We couldn’t have done it without you. You helped educate, empower and equip.
Thank you for supporting International Help and making 2022 such an impactful year!
Health Worker Trainings Change Individuals & Communities
All of our Community Health Workers have extremely grateful hearts and we want to share their appreciation with you! At IHELP we believe in transparency and we want you to be able to see how your donations have impacted the lives of others. See Gustavo’s incredible testimony below.
“First I would like to thank God for allowing me to be part of this Community Health Worker team. On these days, Saturday and Sunday, we have had the opportunity to learn and further our understanding of maternal health. A huge thank you to the people who made this type of event possible because we know you contributed financially and supported this excellent [IHELP] team. This is beneficial to each of us as CHWs as we want to provide help to those who need it most, and in this case, that would be pregnant women from their first month [of pregnancy] until after their baby is born. For us to be able to receive this knowledge is very important because we are willing to help, and why not take advantage of and give thanks to God for this opportunity? Thank you to the people who are able to contribute financially and support this excellent team of Monterey, her husband, and Amber. We are very thankful for receiving so much information that we have here [in our minds]. We had so much fun. This is not the first time we are part of this project and we hope in the future there are even better opportunities and we can continue filling [our minds] with more knowledge to be able to continue helping those who need it the most. Thank you so much and many blessings!”
Help is Needed
Giving Tuesday is a movement that encourages people to unleash generosity. It was created to show people that you do not need to be a millionaire to have an impact. Whatever you are willing to offer will be received by grateful hands and used to change lives. Every year Giving Tuesday is held the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. So as you reflect on all that you are grateful for, think of how grateful you could make someone else. Without your support our trainings would not be possible.
By joining the other 35 million Giving Tuesday donors you will be giving the real gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you be joining a powerful movement, you will help us reach our 2022 fundraising goals that make Community Health Worker training projects possible!
This November and December we are traveling to Honduras, Zimbabwe, and are finalizing plans for 2023. We need your help! Our goal this Giving Tuesday is to raise $25,000 to fund our 2023 projects in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guyana. And to help us reach that goal, we had a generous donor offer a $5,000 match! Remember that you can contribute any way you feel fitting. Whether that’s money donations, volunteering, medical or office supplies, airline miles, or simply shopping on Amazon Smile. So please join us for GT 2022 and unleash generosity!
Community Health Workers (CHWs) play a major role in providing emergency health services in certain situations like Natural Disasters when there will be a shortage of health workers or slower response from the Local Government Health System. Some common natural disasters which will have a huge impact on many people in the community & require quick help from CHWs:
Being a Community Health Worker (CHW) is a difficult job at times, especially when it comes to the topic of nutrition. Nutrition is a very important component when CHWs are doing their work as it is the key to a lot of the health issues that are faced in society, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. CHWs must always make sure they emphasize a healthy lifestyle through nutrition because if people are eating healthy, then their risk of developing chronic illnesses or diseases in the future is decreased.
One thing that has to be remembered with nutrition is that the Community Health Workers (CHWs) must take the economic and environmental status of the people they are teaching into consideration. A good CHW will tailor their nutrition recommendations based on these factors.
Nutrition is something that is often ignored when addressing health issues at times. It is important when addressing several health issues. As a community health worker it is important that nutrition is always being addressed.
Cultural competence is defined by the CDC as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations”.
The term “culture” in this sense encompasses the different patterns of human behavior demonstrated in language, thoughts, communications, actions, institutions of race, ethnicity, customs, values, beliefs, traditions, religion, or social groups.
“Competence” is having the capacity to effectively work as an individual or as an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs that are demonstrated by the target community. Within the realm of public health, cultural competence can significantly impact how well a program is received and sustained within a community. Public health organizations and officials must be culturally competent and fully aware of the community before implementing any health behaviors.
Understanding the culture of the community you’re working in can be advantageous to containing the spread of diseases, improving sanitation practices, and help communities understand the importance of changed health behaviors. For example, the utilization of gendered roles in a community at risk for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) creates a more efficient approach to community surveillance and treatment in areas lacking proper health infrastructure. Supporting women and men in their cultural gender roles by educating women on how to treat family members, quarantine procedures, and personal protection from transmission can reduce the strain put on a country’s limited hospitals/clinics. Likewise, giving otherwise unemployed young men surveillance and community supply management roles has aided in preventing social conflict by giving them the sense of purpose that their culturally propelled role strives for.
Cultural Competence requires that organizations:
Have defined values and principles, and demonstrate attitudes, procedures, behaviors, and structures that enable them to work efficiently cross-culturally.
Have the capacity to value diversity, manage the dynamics of differences within the community, research and implement cultural knowledge, and adapt to cultural situations and contexts of the community they are serving.
Have the ability to incorporate all of the above aspects regarding policy-making, practice, service delivery, as well as pass on these abilities to potential stakeholders and employees for future sustainable programs.
International HELP utilizes different resources as well as thorough research to assess the cultural needs of the communities it targets. Cultural norms, traditions, beliefs, and religious aspects are all taken into consideration when planning a public health outreach within this organization to ensure an effective and sustainable program is implemented.
This fall we have a new group of incredible interns helping with a variety of projects over the coming months. Those projects range from finalizing program details for training expansion in rural El Salvador, completing country profiles, and analyzing the needs of the community in Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as updating and helping develop our Google Classroom software for remote training in Syria. We’re so excited to see all the amazing work they will do and the support they will provide to help us equip, empower, and educate local people around the globe. Welcome to the team!
Hi! I am Bassima and I am from Yemen, which is known as Happy Yemen. I studied medicine and practiced many medical aspects focusing on primary health care. Volunteering and participating with young people and communities are the main drivers of my passion. Then studying global health in Bonn university, enhances my knowledge in empowering communities, organizing and planning projects and trying to manage the environment’s issues. As we need everyone to be healthy, this will not be without treating the unanimous health issues globally, and that is why I am here in this esteemed, valuable organization.
My name is Giselle, I live in Houston, Texas. I am currently attending Southern New Hampshire University, completing a Masters in Public Health Program. Global Health is my concentration and I am very excited to be a part of this program.
I’m from Washington, IL, which is a small town 2 hours South of Chicago, and have recently moved to just outside of Asheville, NC. I’m currently a Senior at Boston University studying Health Science with hopes to pursue a Law Degree after graduation. In my free time, I love to explore the city of Boston and find new restaurants or sites to see.
Hi! My name is Abigail, and I’m currently finishing up my Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. My area of focus is tropical medicine and infectious disease, with particular interest in HIV and women’s health. Ultimately, after a few years of experience in the field, I hope to continue on to get a PhD in Epidemiology and become a professor of infectious disease!
Deena is currently an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of California, Irvine. She aims to eventually study medicine and achieve her dream of becoming a pediatric intensivist for an international organization such as the World Health Organization of Doctors Without Borders. Alongside her full-time courseload, she works as a Starbucks barista and a freelance artist in her spare time. Her hobbies include human rights advocacy, jewelry-making, and learning different languages. During her internship with International HELP, Deena hopes to gain more insight in the process of addressing disparities for health education programs in underprivileged communities.
As a student living near the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina, I experienced firsthand the incredible power of nature and its ability to grind civilization to a halt. Unfortunately, I also witnessed how such damage can be compounded by inadequate planning or coordination from government agencies, insurers, and aid organizations. Six years later, these events were close to mind when the Souris River overran its banks and flooded the city of Minot, North Dakota, where I was stationed. My role as a new Air Force physician taking care of aircrew and nuclear surety morphed into assisting our helicopter squadron assess the damage to critical healthcare infrastructure along with providing medical care/transport to stranded personnel. I discovered that some effects of that disaster, like black mold or depression, might be hidden initially but can far outlast the floodwaters.
In these crises and many others around the world, people have the capacity for tremendous resiliency. Wounds heal, homes are rebuilt, and livelihoods are restored. However the people vulnerable to lasting injury are nearly always the poorest, sickest, oldest, youngest, and most physically or mentally disabled among us. International HELP is committed to not only training community health workers to prepare these underserved populations for disaster but also providing those workers with the tools necessary to become effective first responders in the event of an emergency. Every year, extreme weather events cut short tens of thousands of lives and cost hundreds of billions in damages. And due to climate change, such disasters are only expected to increase in frequency and severity in the coming years. I hope to leverage my background in medicine, experience dealing with natural disasters, and training as a FEMA-certified emergency responder to assist this organization in accomplishing its mission: to educate, empower and equip people in need to be health leaders in their community.
Here are 5 tips to preparing for a disaster in your own life:
Understand your threats – What are the most common and most dangerous risks for your situation? Learn everything you can about those and develop a plan.
Have an emergency kit – You remembered canned food but don’t have a can opener? Credit cards and ApplePay don’t work when the phone lines are down. Check out this helpful guide from FEMA.
Develop useful skills – Take a course in CPR and learn how to handle a fire extinguisher. Know how to board up windows and identify utility shut-off sites.
Don’t forget your pets – Are your pets microchipped? How would you navigate a scenario in which your pet is not allowed in a hotel or public shelter?
Help one another – Pay particular attention to those friends, family, and neighbors who may be infirm or otherwise require special assistance.
Nutrition is a very specific category with a vast array of coverage when pertaining to Community Health Workers (CHWs). The concept of nutrition is more than what we eat but how it is used by our bodies and how it can benefit our overall health. The burden of malnutrition is a deep issue many countries deal with, especially with vulnerable population groups like young children, older seniors, and individuals who are immune-compromised or have preexisting health concerns.
CHWs are on the front line experiencing how people suffer from malnourishment, growth stunting, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and the symptoms and/or side effects of the NCDs. There is a level of hardship when facing people who are suffering in their own ways, and CHWs are capable of providing the necessary aid to these communities with the support of groups like IHELP.
Currently, IHELP is formulating a secondary nutrition education certification for CHWs to equip them with the more in-depth knowledge they will need when out in the field. IHELP aims to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and culturally/traditionally acceptable methods of nutritional food intake. Research is currently being compiled through country data profiles, peer-reviewed scientific study journals, and connecting with IHELP’s current CHWs. There is a distinct need to address malnutrition globally and with this education certification, which will empower future interventions, it is the best-calculated step in the direction of lessening its prevalence around the world.
International HELP is currently finalizing program components to establish a maternal health certification program for our Community Health Workers (CHWs) across the globe. In the next year, we will be conducting a pilot project in rural El Salvador for our previously-trained CHWs who have not only expressed specific interest in obtaining this specialty training but have also presented a community need for more accessible basic maternal health care and education.
At International HELP, we strive to empower CHWs to help combat the risk factors behind maternal mortality and morbidity. Although there has been global progress in decreasing maternal mortality/morbidity, it is evident that there is still work to be done. According to the World Health Organization1:
About 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2017.
Approximately 810 women died every day in 2017 from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
94% of all maternal deaths occur in low and lower-middle-income countries.
Young adolescents (ages 10-14) face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than other women.
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15–19-year-old girls globally.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) hold a unique role within the public health and medical systems. They provide a wide range of services and assist with several public health programs around the world. Many CHWs in the United States and high-income countries act as health promoters, educating community members about health-related topics.1 CHWs have an in-depth understanding of their communities, and they can engage community leaders and members and spread public health messages in a culturally acceptable manner. In this context, CHWs serve a supporting role to well-established medical and public health systems, and it is easy to imagine a sharp distinction between Community Health Workers and trained healthcare professionals.
In contrast, CHWs in developing nations often complement overstretched healthcare systems and provide a wide variety of primary healthcare services.2 The type and complexity of these services as well as incentives and pay will vary widely depending on location and level of education attained by the CHW.2 This can blur the distinction between a layperson volunteering and a healthcare professional providing a service as a career. A systematic review of research on community health workers found that CHWs could be generally classified into three levels from lay people with informal training to “paraprofessionals” with in-depth training.2 Each level has different roles within the healthcare system, but the authors note there is a lot of evidence that all levels of CHWs contribute to increasing healthcare coverage.2 This shows that pinpointing the exact role of the CHW in the medical system of developing nations is difficult, but training CHWs is nonetheless a worthwhile global health project to increase healthcare coverage for hard-to-reach populations.
– Timothy Ramseyer, MPH Intern
1. Malcarney, M. B., Pittman, P., Quigley, L., Horton, K., & Seiler, N. (2017). The Changing Roles of Community Health Workers. Health services research, 52 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 360–382. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.12657
2. Olaniran, A., Smith, H., Unkels, R., Bar-Zeev, S., & van den Broek, N. (2017). Who is a community health worker? – a systematic review of definitions. Global health action, 10(1), 1272223. https://doi.org/10.1080/16549716.2017.1272223