Who Deserves Our Thanks? Health Workers Who Save Lives

Sarah DwyerI’m afraid of snakes. It’s such a clichéd fear that I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but there it is. Hiking on a steep and winding trail recently, I turned a corner and almost stomped on a giant snake. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t seen it at the last second.

In Accra, Ghana, one person’s reptilian encounter didn’t turn out so lucky. A very poisonous species bit him and he went into shock. The snakebite would have been fatal. Fortunately, a health worker was there to save his life.

Beryl Karikari, a senior health officer, was on the job and ready to respond. “We had to really transfuse the patient because the patient lost a lot of blood,” she remembers. She was rapidly running out of IV fluids, but in the end she was able to save his life. And this is exactly what she loves to do.

“I became a health worker because I have the passion for it,” Beryl says. “I like to help people, especially the old and the young ones.”

Across the globe, in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Dr. Kenechanh Chanthapadith shares Beryl’s passion. “I love my job,” he says. “I like to save my patient’s life.”

He relates a story about a patient who came to his facility with an abdominal complaint. Thanks to Dr. Chanthapadith’s quick action, the patient’s ectopic pregnancy was detected and she was able to get the operation she needed in time. “She is alive now,” Dr. Chanthapadith is happy to report.

And that’s what it’s all about for so many health workers—nothing less than saving lives. That’s why CapacityPlus is celebrating health workers as part of the first ever World Health Worker Week. Each day we’re featuring amazing people from our “I’m a Health Worker” video series, which highlights how CapacityPlus places health workers at the center of our efforts to strengthen the health workforce. Today we thank Beryl Karikari and Dr. Kenechanh Chanthapadith along with so many others around the world. Visit our Facebook page, follow #WHWW and #healthworkerscount on Twitter, and add your voice to the conversation.

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Photo by Trevor Snapp. Thanks to Brooke Buchanan for interviewing Beryl Karikari and Wanda Jaskiewicz for interviewing Dr. Kenechanh Chanthapadith.