News & Blogs2019-09-24T06:57:57-04:00
1309, 2021

Health Worker Safety is Patient Safety: It’s Time to Rebuild Our Health Systems to Support our Health Workers

By Amanda Ottosson, M.S.C., WI-HER Program Officer Source: World Health Organization “People-centeredness” is a fundamental principle of quality health services. When someone seeks care or treatment within a health system, they hope to be understood, heard, and treated with kindness, respect, and the best possible personalized care possible. This is, of course, critical to quality care, but we must also look at the other side of the coin: how is the health workforce treated? We must ask ourselves: how are the health workers – who consistently and continuously provide person-centered care – being provided for and treated as well? When we demand quality, do we view health workers as humans or machines? Do we view them with a person-centered perspective as well? Do we truly understand that they too may have bad days, that they are tired and overworked, and that they are… human? When we expect to receive care and treatment from any health worker, especially psychological support services, we subject health workers to potential re-traumatization themselves. For example, WI-HER was contracted to adapt in-person gender-based violence training to online training during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of this adaption, WI-HER stressed the importance of considering re-traumatization of the health workers and offered support to the health workers should re-traumatization occur. Re-traumatization can occur for anyone involved in a patient’s care, including health workers. […]

709, 2021

Knowledge is Power: Protect Education from Attack

By Maddison Hall, MPH, WI-HER Program Officer Grade 7 students complete classwork; Photo by DFAT photo library  “Thuto ke maatla.” In Setswana, spoken in the southern African country of Botswana, this phrase translates to “Knowledge is power.” This phrase was emblazoned under the school crest of the secondary school where I taught in Tsabong, Botswana, a small town nestled in the heart of the Kgalagadi Desert. Every day as I walked into classrooms across our campus, I saw this simple phrase translated into reality, as young women and men gained knowledge and skills to help them thrive in their communities. My fellow teachers and I endeavored each day to equip our students not only with learning they could gain from books, but with skills to improve their health and relationships, enhance their confidence, and exercise their rights. Last year, the United Nations declared September 9th the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, recognizing the injustices experienced by children across the world who are prevented from receiving an education. Children across the world face increasing barriers to education, including conflict and violence that forces schools to close, climate change and natural disasters that interrupt education, inequitable gender norms and harmful practices that prevent girls from accessing education, and inequitable access to resources and technology that are needed to thrive in schools, to name a few. […]

1108, 2021

Youth Engagement and Social Inclusiveness using Gender and Youth Ambassadors in the USAID Integrated Health Program in Nigeria

By Stella Mwita, GESI Advisor for WI-HER based in Tanzania, East Africa; and Stella Abah, Lydia Musa, and Helen John, Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement Advisors. WI-HER, LLC, working within the USAID-funded and Palladium-led Integrated Health Project (IHP), is building the capacity of and strengthening health systems across five States in Nigeria. As a part of this work, IHP with assistance from WI-HER, is focused on building advocacy skills and awareness to encourage youth utilization of health services, particularly services related to reproductive health, to encourage healthy sexual behaviors and gender equality. WI-HER also builds leadership competencies of local stakeholders across the five States such as with the State Gender and Youth Ambassadors (GYAs) to enhance their advocacy skills and gender-responsive outreach to adolescents and youths in their communities. The GYAs promote youth voices by inviting them to speak with State-level government representatives and Facility Management Committees to share their unique concerns around sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and general primary health care. WI-HER also convenes peer groups to support youths in conversations about their roles in society, their responsibilities in advancing equality, positive SRH behaviors, and the importance of zero tolerance for gender-based violence (GBV). GYDOs discuss the health needs of adolescents and youth; Photo by Stella Abah WI -HER is proud to be a part of IHP and advancing USAID’s commitment to the future of Nigeria, empowering the growing youth population to be healthy and invested in gender equality and democratic principles. As the United Nations Population Fund states, adolescence is a unique period of life that “brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage, and childbearing.” We respond to those vulnerabilities by equipping youth with knowledge, understanding, and support, as we share in the following examples. […]

1008, 2021

The Importance of Supporting Health Workers and Health Centers

By Luseka Mwanzi, WI-HER Gender Coordinator While National Health Center week is a celebratory week in the United States, this year’s theme “The Chemistry for Strong Communities” inspired me to reflect on the global community and the incredible health centers I have had the opportunity to support to improve gender-based violence (GBV) care in Kenya. WI-HER Gender Coordinator Luseka Mwanzi provides support to local health workers and providers, as well as health centers, to improve the quality of care and service that they give to GBV survivors. Almost everything in the world revolves around health, and GBV is no exception. However, we often forget about the health workers themselves and that providing quality GBV care can be emotionally and physically draining. Health workers not only need recognition, they also need support. It is critical to always remember that anyone may have been subjected to violence, and despite potentially experiencing re-traumatization, health workers strive to provide the highest possible care they can. While I had the opportunity to work with eight health centers in three different counties in Kenya, a facility that I would like to highlight is Nakuru Provincial General Hospital (Nakuru PGH). […]

2607, 2021

Revitalizing and Building the Capacity of the State Gender-Based Violence Technical Working Group in Kebbi, Nigeria

By Stella Abah, WI-HER Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement (GSI&CE) Advisor, and Dr. Adamu Nuhu, USAID IHP Kebbi Director Gender-based violence (GBV) is a life-threatening issue that impacts health and violates international human rights law, and principles of gender equality. It is also a threat to lasting peace and an affront to our common humanity. According to the 2018 Nigeria DHS, 32% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence have sought help to stop the violence, while 55% have never sought help or told anyone about the violence. Unfortunately, according to a report in the Journal of Contraception, negative social norms that condone or support violence against women and girls (VAWG) and harmful practices remain pervasive in Nigeria, where three in ten Nigerian women ages 15 to 49 have experienced either physical or sexual violence. The USAID Integrated Health program, with technical assistance from WI-HER, revitalized its gender-based violence Technical Working Group (TWG). The GBV TWG is working toward strengthening GBV prevention and response in the state of Kebbi in Nigeria. Although girls and women are disproportionately affected by GBV, men and boys also experience its detrimental effects. The effects of GBV go further than just poor health outcomes for women, girls, men, and boys – it thwarts development and prevents those affected from reaching their full human potential. Without sustained and effective interventions, this reality is likely to increase, particularly in Nigerian States like Kebbi, where there are limited resources, less access to education, and deeply entrenched cultural norms that often suppress women’s agency. The USAID Integrated Health Program (IHP) recognizes violence in all of its forms as human rights violations and a serious impediment to health. IHP is committed to supporting Kebbi’s efforts to prevent and respond to GBV through the engagement of State level actors prioritizing GBV; through policies of stronger coordination, documentation, and survivor protection; and building system capacity at the State and primary healthcare (PHC) level for prevention, response, and referral. […]

2007, 2021

Improving Services for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Lessons Learned During Virtual Engagements During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Luseka Mwanzi, WI-HER Gender Coordinator When COVID-19 began in China in late 2019, Kenyans thought it was far-fetched. They never imagined that we as a country would be affected. Reality hit March 16th, 2020, when the president ordered that all schools be closed, and many students began to learn from home. Institutions and companies also introduced working from home. It was no different for the rest of the WI-HER team around the world. Group photo of iDARE teams from Molo sub-county hospital, Rongai health centre, Kitengela subcounty hospital, and Nakuru Provincial General Hospital during a virtual learning session, together with the WI-HER team. However, despite the restrictions in place in regard to movement, health care was needed more than ever. In Kenya, like other countries around the world, many experienced an increase in gender-based violence (GBV). Through the USAID Afya Nyota ya Bonde Project (2018-2021), WI-HER was contracted to support improving support and care for survivors of GBV. The original plan was to train county government trainers to support and supervise facilities in their counties in the implementation of WI-HER’s iDARE methodology; this was no longer possible with the lockdown. GBV continued to rise in communities, especially among children and women, and facilities were overwhelmed. WI-HER had to work fast to redesign a plan that ensured men, women, and children subjected to all forms of GBV were able to be identified, screened, and provided with direct services, including counseling at facilities with catchment areas of estimated high violence. […]

1806, 2021

Human Trafficking in Ethiopia: Risk Factors and its Relation to the Wollo Sex Trade

By Krista Odom, Program Coordinator They say the most beautiful women in Ethiopia come from Wollo. The women there will make you coffee and are so accommodating. You will find that half are Christian and half are Muslim, and some may speak Arabic. It is where you can go to see women dance the traditional Eskesta, where they bop and weave their shoulders in a hypnotic rhythm. This is where the best seretegna, domestic servants, come from; they cook, clean, take care of the babies, do your shopping, work for 16 hours a day, and never take a day off. And, on average, the cost for one month is less than you pay for a single 8-hour day of childcare in the US. For these reasons, the women of Ethiopia and Wollo, in particular, are sought after in the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of Africa as domestic servants. Across Ethiopia, the draw to leave for work is intense. Women are promised a few years of housework in exchange for returning to Ethiopia with enough money to set them and their families up for the rest of their lives. And at home, they face little to no opportunities; in Ethiopia, the unemployment rate stands at 24%, pre-COVID. As stated by the World Bank, Ethiopia’s rural youth are becoming landless and lacking job opportunities, which often leads to increased migration. And Wollo is an Ethiopian epicenter for migration and trafficking from the administrative capital of Dessie. […]

1806, 2021

Building Capacity and Resiliency in Refugees in Fragile Areas of the Middle East

By Allison Annette Foster, Vice President, WI-HER, LLC WI-HER is committed to helping the most vulnerable communities, including refugees from all backgrounds, to create a path forward to well-being and resiliency. All refugees have mountains to overcome economically, psychologically, and emotionally. Some, like the Palestinians in Jordan, are well-entrenched in their new countries, with jobs and social networks, but still struggle with poverty and stigma. Others, such as those from Syria, have emerged from horrific experiences and bring trauma and fear. No matter where these refugees have fled from, and no matter what their needs may be, WI-HER is committed to helping the most vulnerable communities, including refugees from all backgrounds, to create a path forward to well-being and resiliency. One common need among refugees is health care, as many refugees are struggling with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease and chronic respiratory infections. To give refugees the tools they need to take charge of their health, as well as to address the severe shortage of health workers and the critical need for specialty care, WI-HER – in partnership with clinical specialists in the US – developed a clinical capacity building training for health providers working with refugees and vulnerable communities. For instance, beginning in the spring of 2019, WI-HER partnered with Dr. Harb N. Harb to develop and implement experiential learning programs that provide on-the-ground training to physicians and nurses working in Syrian refugee camps, health facilities in Palestine, and border conflict zones. […]

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