One of the greatest global health challenges is providing adequate health care to hard to reach rural communities in poor countries around the world. Cities and towns may have decent hospitals, but when you go out to villages only the most rudementary health care facilities exists, if at all. When someone gets sick (or when a woman needs to give birth) she often has no easy access to health care.  Across the developing world, most health indicators (like maternal and child mortality rates) tend to be much worse for rural communities than urban dwellers. Access to health care seems to be decisive.

A few years ago, governments and NGOs started to experiment with a concept called “health extension workers.”  These are essentially nurses recruited from rural communities, given basic healthcare training (including — crucially —  midwifery), and then deployed back into their home communities. They are the first, and sometimes only health care provider for their villages.  They are making a difference.

This video from Unicef shows a very extreme case of a health extension worker serving a nomadic tribe in the middle of the Namibian desert. It shows that the health extension worker idea can succeed even in the most remote places on earth.

 

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