To Save Millions of Women’s Lives, Empower Women as Health Workers

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Save the Children’s newborn and child survival campaign is calling on governments to bridge the critical shortage of 3.5 million health workers worldwide.

Save the Children’s newborn and child survival campaign is calling on governments to bridge the critical shortage of 3.5 million health workers worldwide.

Media Contact
Tanya Weinberg 202.247.6610

WESTPORT, CT (March 8, 2011) — On International Women’s Day, Save the Children is calling for greater investment in female health workers as essential to saving mothers’ and children’s lives.

Every year, nearly 350,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, and over 8 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday — but investment in women as community health workers can play a major role in dramatically reducing these figures.

As part of a wider health system, women with just a few years schooling can be trained and supported to provide advice and help during pregnancy and diagnose and treat some of the most common childhood illnesses, and refer more complicated cases to professionally trained nurses and doctors.

In one study in Bangladesh, female community health workers with some schooling and six weeks of hands-on training contributed to a fall by one third of the number of newborn babies dying. Nepal, which is now on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4, has dramatically reduced maternal and child deaths by training over 50,000 female community health volunteers to serve rural areas.

“Women community health workers can be the heroes of their communities. A community health worker can take her knowledge, vital medicines and care where they are needed most — her own village. She is able to support her friends and neighbours, even in hard-to-reach rural areas. What’s more she becomes an empowered woman within her community, becoming a wiser advocate for health,” says Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children International Chief Executive.

World leaders committed in 2000 to dramatically reduce maternal and infant mortality by 2015, but progress needs to be dramatically accelerated for those promises to be fulfilled and millions of avoidable deaths prevented. Increased investment in health is urgently needed, and yet as a result of the economic crisis, investment in a number of countries in health is being stalled or cut — and it is women and girls who are the hardest hit.

To learn more about Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival Campaign, go to

Read More

Save the Children celebrates the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day with videos of success stories of brave women and girls.

You can download some case studies and images here.

On March 8, will be running blogs from health workers across Asia. The blogs will run until Mothers Day.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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