GHWA announces its awardees for 2013

During a special ceremony at the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, the Global Health Workforce Alliance honoured four outstanding players in the field of HRH in the following categories: health workers working in remote/hardship area, country-level decision makers, partner agencies and organizations, and journalists.

Dr Haruna Lule, the principal medical officer at Gombe Hospital in Uganda, was recognized for pioneering the Hand Hygiene project with the aim of strengthening hospital infection control. Alcohol-based hand rubs were installed in wards and pocket size bottles were provided to all staff. Health workers also received training in hand hygiene. Thanks to Dr. Lule’s efforts, post-surgery sepsis in the maternity ward has decreased by over 60%, patients’ length of stay has gone from 4.6 to 3.5 days in most wards, cross-infection of diarrhea cases among children in pediatrics ward has also reduced drastically.

Dr Maria Isabel Rodríguez, the current Minister of Health of the Republic of El Salvador, received an award for leading a process of national health care reform to provide universal health care coverage through the strengthening of the nation's health workforce. This will be achieved thanks to the addition of 3,500 health professionals to the workforce. Her plan will also see the establishment of a body that will promote the training of cadres of national health policy makers and the creation of a platform for the professional training of specialist physicians in the country.

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), an international organization headquartered in Kenya, was honoured for leading the process of health workforce strengthening in African countries. Every year, AMREF trains more than 10,000 community health workers who bring health to people’s homes in some of Africa’s most marginalized communities. They also train doctors, nurses, midwives, clinical officers, laboratory technicians and pharmacists. AMREF’s training takes place in communities, health centers, and hospitals in six African countries, as well as in AMREF’s International Training Center in Nairobi and satellite training centers in Tanzania and Uganda.

The Awarding Committee acknowledged the work of Ms Marie Yambo, a journalist from Kenya, who has used the media to promote health care development. Ms Yambo has produced a health segment on Kenyan television called Health Matters. The TV program explores the role of health workers in the national health system. It has looked at the work that traditional birth attendants and community health workers carry out to reduce the country’s infant and maternal mortality rates.

Over 50 entries from around the world were received. The Awarding Committee consisted of prominent experts in the field of human resources for health from diverse institutions and organizations, including the World Health Organization, World Bank, Save the Children, IntraHealth International, Geneva University Hospital, and the Government of Brazil.

This was the second edition of the GHWA Awards – the first was celebrated at the Second Global Forum, held in Bangkok, Thailand from 25-29 January 2011. The GHWA Awards were created to put a human face to the challenge of the health workforce crisis as well as to recognize, respect and appreciate the lifesaving work of the unsung heroes of global health.