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Pressing for progress: BID celebrates International Women’s Day

By Celina Kareiva, Communications Associate, BID Initiative

Mar 9, 2018

Posted in

Photo: PATH/Trevor Snapp.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the role health plays in setting a foundation for girls’ and women’s progress and success. It’s a chance to celebrate both the leaders and the ordinary women who contribute to change; and to emphasize the importance of gender equality. Investing in women’s health and economic freedom helps to break the cycle of poverty, raises Gross Domestic Product, and leads to lasting social gains. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress, and comes on the heels of significant global movements, such as #MeToo, #NiUnaMenos, and countless others. During this year’s advocacy day we celebrate the many women within the BID Initiative family.

Salome Mbegela, Reproductive and Child Health Nurse in-Charge, Meru Hospital, Tanzania

They include women like Salome Mbegela, a reproductive and child health nurse in-charge at Meru Hospital in Arusha Region, Tanzania, who uses data quality and use interventions to establish a more holistic picture of patient health. Thanks to the Tanzania Immunization Registry’s automatic reporting feature, Salome’s typical routine has been turned on its head. She no longer spends the majority of her time collecting data or drafting monthly reports. Instead, she can dedicate more energy to her patients – the individuals who drive her work daily.

Regina Chilekwa, Nurse, Mahatma Gandhi Clinic, Zambia

It also includes women like Regina Chilekwa, a nurse at Mahatma Gandhi Clinic in Livingstone. On any given day, she sees between 40 to 60 children, and sometimes as many as 100. The Zambia Electronic Immunization Registry helps her project the number of patients expected, and to order more vaccines accordingly. As a result, she can make more informed decisions, and provide more targeted care.

Lynn Kachinka, Mother, Zambia

International Women’s Day also honors mothers like Lynn Kachinka, whose oldest child was born before the introduction of data quality and use interventions by BID and the Ministry of Health. She remembers the vaccine stockouts that characterized clinic visits.

“When my first child was born, there was no [electronic immunization] system like now. They used to delay a lot. This time it’s easier because they scan our [child health cards],” recalls Lynn, whose youngest child is a patient at Mahatma Gandhi Clinic in Livingstone.

In the past, Lynn and her children sometimes returned home without receiving the necessary vaccines. Today, vaccines are administered quickly, and she still has time to visit the market and take care of her other responsibilities.

Just as a single moment can spark a movement, ordinary women like Lynn, Regina and Salome can play an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. From planning for immunization clinics, to traveling long distances to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases, they are contributing to the steady, incremental change that makes for a healthier, safer and more equitable world. Happy International Women’s Day!

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