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Community Health: A Win-Win for Women

BY Taylor Capizola • March 07, 2019

Emilie Chambert, Country Director, Living Goods Uganda

Before 2018, Reginah Nassolo would often ask her adult children for health assistance. But, since becoming a community health worker (CHW) in Uganda’s Lowero district in February of 2018, her children have been calling on her instead, so that she can provide health care to her grandchildren. Supported in her work as a CHW by Living Goods, Reginah says she is experiencing a greater sense of respect and recognition throughout her village, is earning her own money through performance-based incentives, and even saved enough to buy household goods, including a mattress and window curtains. Living Goods provides CHWs like Reginah with cutting-edge mHealth tools, monthly in-service refresher trainings, effective supervision, a supply of medications to treat basic diseases, along with compensation for their work.

Empowered, trained, and motivated women like Reginah make a difference in their communities, families, and in their own lives, by effectively extending access to cost-effective health care at the community level. Global research from around the world shows that better health, education, and job opportunities for women lead to stronger economies, increased productivity, and more political stability, and Living Goods’ approach to community health aims to highlight this.

In Uganda, where I work as the Country Director for Living Goods, I see the impact of healthy and empowered women every single day, since 90 percent of the CHWs we support here are women. To these CHWs, going door-to-door is simply a daily task, but to the Living Goods team, it is no secret that these women are health superheroes, who help bring education, diagnoses, and treatments to the doorsteps of neighborhood families near and far. CHWs, especially female CHWs, are critical to bringing these health services closer to the community, especially in a country where 76 percent of the population lives in rural, hard-to-access areas. In bringing lifesaving health services to those in need of both access and care, the CHWs we support actively reduce maternal and child mortality.

Not only do female CHWs deliver lifesaving care to their neighbors, but, more broadly, community health programs also provide a powerful engine for women’s empowerment. Living Goods-supported CHWs receive training and compensation through both financial and non-financial incentives, and often become respected, visible, and influential within their communities, ultimately gaining greater agency—just like Reginah. A CHW’s role in Uganda can be so consequential that in the 2018 local elections, many female CHWs were pursued by local leaders and political parties to stand for key positions on government councils, further elevating their positions, opinions, and place within their communities.

This International Women’s Day, I would like to celebrate both CHWs and the women they serve for building a healthier, more empowered world for us all!