New Grant Will Allow Greater U.S. Investment in the Developing World's Frontline Health Workers

Oct 24, 2012, 11:53 ET from IntraHealth International

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Frontline Health Workers Coalition has received a $750,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, awarded to coalition member IntraHealth International, to support the group's mission to urge greater and more strategic U.S. investment in frontline health workers in developing countries. Building this workforce is the most cost-effective way to save lives and foster a healthier, safer, more prosperous world, the coalition says.

IntraHealth will use the grant to establish a secretariat to grow the coalition, develop substantive policy recommendations to the U.S. Government and communicate effectively with an array of stakeholders. Frontline providers deliver health services directly to their communities. Many are midwives, pharmacists, nurses, doctors and health workers who serve in local clinics.

"By working together to train more frontline health workers and to better support them, world leaders have the opportunity to drastically increase the number of people who have skilled providers to turn to when they or their loved ones become ill," said Maurice Middleberg, vice president of global policy at IntraHealth International and chair of the coalition's policy committee. "This is an exciting development that will help to intensify the work of the coalition, and we truly value the foundation's support of our mission."

Frontline providers are the first—and often the only—link to health care for people in many parts of the world, especially in remote and rural areas. Yet the World Health Organization estimates a shortage of at least 1 million of these workers, particularly in Africa and parts of Asia.

The frontline workforce provides immunizations, helps prevent and treat life-threatening illnesses and refers patients to the appropriate health facilities. Frontline health workers are also playing a greater role in addressing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions that affect the health and productivity of adults around the world. Proper training and support will allow the millions of existing frontline providers to be much more efficient and effective.

Save the Children's Mary Beth Powers, coalition chair, added, "The U.S. Government and the Gates Foundation have been leaders in global health. The Frontline Health Workers Coalition will galvanize support for those unsung heroes on the frontlines who are protecting the health of families around the world." 

Launched in January 2012, the coalition envisions a world in which everyone has access to basic preventive and curative health care provided by a skilled, motivated frontline health workforce. It encourages the U.S. government to help train and deploy these workers as part of a comprehensive health workforce strategy, and to invest in countries that have severe health worker shortages.

As of July 2012, the coalition consisted of members from 26 organizations: Abt Associates, Accordia Global Health Foundation, African Medical and Research Foundation, Family Care International, Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Sahara Africa, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, International Medical Corps, IntraHealth International, Jhpiego, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Management Sciences for Health, Inc., Partners In Health, Pathfinder International, Population Communication, PSI, Public Health Institute, RESULTS, ReSurge International, Save the Children, University Research Co., LLC, The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Women Deliver, Women's Refugee Commission and World Vision. The Coalition has partnered with the private sector to support the mission; private sector partners include Becton Dickinson, GlaxoSmithKline, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic Foundation, Merck Foundation, Novo Nordisk and Pfizer.

SOURCE IntraHealth International