Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
By: Mark Brender
Community health worker Marcela Perez helps her patient
Mariano (left) take his medications and ensures he makes
regular visits to the clinic. Mariano’s health has stabilized
since they started working together.
A few weeks ago in the village of Salvador Urbina, in Chiapas, Mexico, a group of women had cause to celebrate. They spoke with pride of their achievement—successfully completing training as accompanates, or community health workers (CHWs)—and what they have been tasked to do for their community. They emphasized their desire to continue to learn and expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to be of service. For many, it was the first time they had ever spoken at a public gathering; women had never before occupied a role that offered any public status outside the walls of their home.
I heard about the celebration last week at the start of a visit to Chiapas for a dialogue on the impact and work of community health workers (CHWs) across Partners In Health sites in Haiti, Peru, Navajo Nation, and Mexico. It was one moving story among many, with the theme of empowering women prominent throughout. Below, a few other reflections that continue to resonate:
Dr. Gerrardo Murillo sees some 500 patients per month and
coordinates patient care with nine CHWs in a clinic supported
by Partners In Health in Reforma, Mexico.
People often speak within Partners In Health of the privilege of doing this work. It’s heartfelt and it’s real. It’s the privilege that comes with having a job whose raison d’etre is to make human connections. For the CHWs and their patients, that’s a gift in itself.
Mark Brender is Director of Partners In Health Canada