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10/01/2013

How you can help train a health care worker in the developing world

PIH picture
Dr. Alcade Rudakemwa recently graduated from the National University of Rwanda Medical School and now receives medical mentorship and training through Partners In Health. Photo source: Partners In Health Canada

Here in Canada, we have 20.7 doctors for every 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. The average Canadian can expect to live until the ripe old age of 82.

Compare these figures to Rwanda, however, where there are only 0.6 doctors per 10,000 people. The average life expectancy for Rwandans? Sixty more than two decades shorter than in Canada and five years before most Canadians retire.

It is now well recognized that health worker shortages are a major barrier to improving health and survival in the developing world. This is particularly true in Africa, which has 24 per cent of the world's burden of disease but only 3 per cent of the world's health workers.

Partners In Health, however, has long been working to build long-term health capacity in the developing world, especially in Rwanda and Haiti (one of the founders of PIH, by the way, is the current president of the World Bank).

And today, Partners In Health Canada  the new-ish Canadian arm of the international non-profit organization launched a new campaign called Share The Health, one that allows you, too, to contribute towards the cause.

The campaign will run for the length of October and allows people to honour their own career mentors by making donations money that will pay for a health care worker in Haiti or Rwanda to receive educational training and mentorship.

What donors will get is two-fold:

1) An opportunity to honour a mentor who has influenced or shaped their careers (whether in health care or otherwise) with a testimonial that will be published on the Partners In Health Canada website and Facebook page.

2) The knowledge that their $198 will help feed a medical resident for a month or that their $600 will train a doctor in life-saving emergency obstetric care. (For other examples of donation amounts and what they could help fund, see here).

For people wanting to contribute in some way but feel overwhelmed by the multitude of donation options and the complexity of donating effectively this provides a way to make a direct impact, says Mark Brender, director of Partners In Health Canada.

And once the campaign is over, donors will be contacted directly and informed of where, exactly, their dollars have gone.

"This particular campaign I think it starts with the goal of not wanting to do just what we can for poor people living in poor countries but wanting to be able to provide high quality care. The same as we would expect," Brender says.

Jennifer Yang is the Star’s global health reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar


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