Another Reason We’re Focusing on Health Workers: Ruth Wanyama

“Me, I was born a premature. And if it wasn’t [for] the work of the midwives, I would not be alive. That’s why,” says Nabirye Ruth Wanyama.

Ever wonder why someone decides to become a health worker and dedicate their lives to helping others? We sure do. It’s one of the standard questions for “I’m a Health Worker,” an informal video series that CapacityPlus produces to highlight how we place health workers at the center of everything we do. We know it takes a qualified and motivated health worker like Ruth to deliver life-saving health services.

Now, as a senior nursing officer and registered midwife, Ruth is the one saving the lives of mothers and babies. “Life is very important…. You cannot buy it,” she beams. Ruth remembers something else she did for one woman she cared for: “She was in first stage of labor. When she came, she had no attendants. I was the one who was rubbing her back, and unfortunately she didn’t have even the baby’s sheets. So, I was sleeping near the center, I went home, I brought some sheets, and I gave [them] to her after delivering the baby.”

And Ruth is also making an impact on others. The USAID-funded and IntraHealth International-led Uganda Capacity Program (UCP) is training health workers like Ruth to mentor student nurses—just one strategy for strengthening the health workforce by improving preservice education. As part of a five-week course, evaluators monitor mentors and assess their performance. Following her review, Ruth received an award for the best mentor because of her excellent attitude while guiding her students, her approachability and willingness to listen to their concerns, her accuracy in demonstrating procedures, and her supportive supervision.

Ruth receiving an award

CapacityPlus works closely with the Uganda Capacity Program to advance health workforce strengthening interventions related to leadership and management, preservice education and in-service training, retention, and the country’s health workforce information and monitoring and evaluation systems.

The “I’m a Health Worker” series relies on staff to identify outstanding health workers they encounter and then conduct a short interview using their iPhone. CapacityPlus’s Crystal Ng focused on Ruth during a recent trip to Uganda to conduct a monitoring and evaluation training. Crystal was visiting the Uganda Capacity Program office when Ruth came in to pick up her award.

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Photo by Crystal Ng (Ruth receiving her award from Vincent Oketcho, chief of party for Uganda Capacity Program)