GE Healthcare and Women in Global Health, which strives for greater gender equality in global health leadership, are working together to honor women in healthcare around the world, they announced May 22 at the inaugural Annual Heroines of Health Awards ceremony at the World Health Assembly under way in Geneva.
The partners point out that, today, women make up 75 percent of the global healthcare workforce in many regions, and they contribute nearly $3 trillion to the industry. Yet, their contributions often go unpaid and unrecognized – and stories of their impact go untold.
“These women are working tirelessly to improve global health with dedication and passion to champion better healthcare for all,” said Terri Bresenham, president and CEO of Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, GE Healthcare. "At GE Healthcare, we place tremendous value on training and education of healthcare professionals across emerging markets and we are starting from the frontlines by ensuring that 50 percent of our training places are available for women.”
Roopa Dhatt, director and co-founder of Women in Global Health added that while woman and ofter underpaid and under-redcognized, investing in women and girls can yield a great societal return.
“In the global health field, it becomes more pervasive as women are at the front lines, taking on the toughest health challenges to ensure there are healthier communities, yet they are not represented in decision-making positions,” Dhatt said.
The nominees have been selected across a number of focus areas and countries:
The focus of this award is telling the stories of those women who are making an impact at the local, grassroots level and in traditionally under-represented communities, Dhatt said.
To that end, GE Healthcare will premiere a documentary in June 2017. The film follows three of these women from sunrise to sunset to answer one question: How have these individuals made an impact on the disparity that exists in global health in a way much of the world is still striving to do?
The documentary, Heroines of Health, takes viewers from South Sulawesi, Indonesia, where Mrs. Rohani wakes up at 4 a.m. for her morning prayer so she can walk pregnant mothers to the nearest health center; to Lwala, Kenya, where Mercy Owuor educates her community about health issues; to Chennai, India, where Dr. Sharmila Anand is enabling young women to gain employment through a radiology training program.
List of honorees by category
Increasing confidence/position of women in healthcare roles
Dr. Sharmila Anand (India) – Dr. Anand leads Santosh Educational & Health Care Pvt Ltd. (SEHPL), a social enterprise which focuses on developing the next generation of healthcare professionals and leaders who can transform the way healthcare is delivered in India. She works on various initiatives that focus on enhancing the skills of people in healthcare at various levels.
Sreytouch Vong (Cambodia) – Vong is a research fellow, affiliated with ReBUILD and RinGs consortium which deals with gender analysis. She has engaged in extensive health system research and public health research, that focuses on improving health financing, gender and human resources, and nutrition within healthcare systems. Vong is also working to form a group of health researchers to bridge gaps between users of evidence and the research community in Cambodia.
Elvira Dayrit (Philippines) – Dayrit has worked in the Philippine Department of Health for 27 years. She is dedicated to making government health programs work effectively, efficiently, and in a wide enough scale to create health impact. She is currently the Bureau Director for Health Human Resources where she works to streamline the Bureau.
Dr. Semakaleng Phafol (Lesotho) – Dr. Phafol is a Lesotho Professional Nurse and Education Specialist with more than 25 years of experience in nursing practice, nursing education, community/public health and management of clinical services. She has helped to establish and strengthen clinical placements for over 1000 nursing midwifery students at over 60 health centres.
Mwanamvua Boga (Kenya) – Boga is a nurse manager working with the Kenya Medical Research Institute – Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi on the Kenyan coast. She works in a high dependency pediatric unit at the Kilifi County Hospital that provides clinical care in parallel to conducting medical research in tropical diseases. The unit admits children with a range of conditions including extremely premature babies, children with meningitis, severe malaria, sepsis, cancers and more.
Improvements in maternal and neonatal, child health
Mercy Owuor (Kenya) - Owuor is a Community Programs Director at Lwala Community Alliance where she provides leadership for community programs including efforts to improve maternal and child health, adolescent sexual and reproductive health and HIV care, treatment and stigma reduction. She also works to build the independence of young adolescent girls through mentorship and economic empowerment.
Rohani Dg Te’ne (Indonesia) – Te’ne has worked in health for more than 20 years and is now a volunteer community health motivator for Tamaona community health centre. The rural area where Te’ne lives is not accessible by vehicle so she escorts local villagers needing healthcare and especially pregnant women, to the community health centre through difficult terrain which can take over an hour by foot.
Sexual reproductive health and rights
Margaret Gyapong (Ghana) – Gyapong is currently a Medical Anthropologist at the University of Health and Allied Science in Ghana. Until March 2017, she was the Deputy Director for Research and Development in the Ghana Health Service. Gyapong has also helped turn the Dodowa Health Research Centre into an institution of international repute.
Emmah Kariuki (Kenya) – As a Service Delivery Officer with Jhpiego in Kenya, Kariuki works to bring low cost health innovations to disadvantaged communities. This entails providing technical support for service delivery in family planning reproductive health. Kariuki also provides training to healthcare providers, develops training materials, coordinates research activities and supports the Ministry of Health in the implementation of family planning and reproductive activities.
Kwanele Asante (South Africa) – Patient activist, lawyer and bioethicist, Asante serves as Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Cancer and has founded and led an effort to end disparities in global cancer. Asante works to ensure that the voice of patients facing barriers to care is elevated to give them a greater chance at prolonging their life.
Improvements in migrant health
Dr. Aula Abbara (Greece) – Dr. Abbara is the project lead in Greece for the Syrian American Medical Society Global Response, which provides primary healthcare to refugees together with the Greek authorities and International Non-Governmental Organisations. The range of services provided includes: pediatric and maternal health and delivering a Teaching Recovery Techniques program with the Children and War Foundation. Dr. Abbara also teaches healthcare workers in Turkey on topics related to infectious disease.
Young women's health
Samalie Kitooleko (Uganda) – Kitooleko is a nurse in charge of the Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry. She takes care of patients with chronic cardiovascular illnesses such as congenital heart disease, myocardial infarction and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). She realized an increasing number of RHD patients, especially young women, lacked knowledge about their illness and were dying due to preventable complications which inspired her to champion for patient education.
Louise Nilunger Mannheimer (Sweden) – Mannheimer is Head of Unit at the Health and Sexuality Unit at the Public Health Agency of Sweden where she is currently leading a team responsible for the national coordination of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Her work also includes HIV prevention of young adults, LGBT rights and tackling male violence against women.