barakat2_ TED ALJIBEAFPGetty Images_vaccination Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Investing in Frontline Health Workers

The power of frontline health workers to improve global health has been proven time and again. Yet the world continues to underestimate their capabilities and contributions, with severe consequences for them and the communities they serve.

ABU DHABI – Frontline health workers provide essential services – from administering vaccinations to collecting the data needed to anticipate disease outbreaks – where they are most needed. These workers brave difficult, often dangerous, conditions to reach the one billion people around the world with limited access to health services, whether in remote rural villages or conflict zones. And they are not getting enough support.

The power of frontline health workers to improve global health has been proven time and again. For example, in the early 2000s, Rwanda and Ethiopia recruited and trained thousands of such workers to lead the fight against malaria by educating communities on prevention and detection, distributing tools like bed nets, and administering treatment. As a result, the incidence of malaria fell by 75% in the two countries from 2000 to 2015.

Yet the world continues consistently to underestimate the capabilities and contributions of frontline health workers. This not only undermines their ability to do their jobs effectively; it also puts them at significant risk, with widespread misinformation about vaccines, for example, fueling attacks against those who provide them.

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