Today women make up 75 percent of the global healthcare workforce, yet too often their work is unrecognized, GE Healthcare executives state in releasing the company’s documentary, "Heroines of Health," which is produced by GE Healthcare and filmed by Lisa Russell.
The film highlights three of many untold stories about women working in healthcare around the world.
Mercy Owuor, is the first of the three women featured in the documentary. She lives in Lwala, Kenya and serves as the Community Programs Director at Lwala Community Alliance, a community-led program that aims to drastically reduce maternal and child deaths across a population of a million, people.
A typical day may include tackling issues such as unplanned pregnancies, mother-to-child transmission of HIV, poor prenatal care, unskilled deliveries, poor clinical practices, lack of emergency transport, and delayed treatment of childhood illnesses.
Her goal is for every child in the community to see his or her fifth birthday. Prior to beginning the community outreach, the reality was that too many children didn’t survive this most critical time. Now that is changing.
Today, as shown in Lwala’s Decade of Impact Report, Lwala Community Alliance has reduced mortality for children under 5 years old to less than half of the regional average. In just 10 years, Lwala Community Hospital has reached nearly 50,000 patient visits a year, Community Health Workers are tacking and treating 10,000 people, and a robust education program is reaching 13 schools.
Dr. Sharmila Anand works in Thirukalukundram, a village two hours away from the nearest city in the south of India.
Anand was 23-years old and in the middle of pursuing her medical degree when her daughter was born. The expectation was that she would stay at home from work to care for her new baby. Initially, she conceded but, coming from a family of doctors, the medical field still called to her, so she applied for a healthcare management course at a top institution in India. She pursued an internship at a hospital and earned her MBA in the U.S.
“My daughter was three years old and I was a student working five jobs,” says Anand, “She actually watched me graduate through webinar when she was four. When I got on the phone after, she told me: Mom, I want to be like you. That made it all OK.”
Today, Anand is back India, where she founded SEHPL, a social enterprise focused on developing the next generation of healthcare professionals. It is estimated that India requires nearly 6.5 million health professionals but currently has fewer than 300,000.
Mrs. Rohani: Rohani is a volunteer midwife’s assistant from a mountain village in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. She wakes up at 4 a.m. daily to join her family in a morning prayer before walking expectant mothers to the nearest community health center, more than an hour walk by foot.
GE Healthcare perspective
“For the past six years, I’ve lived in India and spent time in communities here and across Southeast Asia and Africa, leading GE Healthcare’s emerging markets business. I have been deeply inspired by the passion and resiliency of the women I've met who, unofficially and despite great challenges, are on the front lines improving the health of their communities,” Terri Bresenham, president and CEO, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, GE Healthcare, said in a statement. “The heroines in this documentary are three such women. We hope the film inspires recognition and opportunity for many more.”
GE Healthcare established Sustainable Healthcare Solutions in 2015. The business partners with governments and non-governmental organizations to strengthen healthcare systems and improve the affordability and accessibility to quality healthcare in India, Africa and Southeast Asia.
These regions also offer insight into the critical role women play in this effort, and that, when given the opportunity to lead in both community health and policy development, women have the ability to improve the health of millions of people.