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Community health workers: Meet Shallon

Profiles of Community Health Workers: Shallon Tusiime

In the remote village of Ruhiira in Uganda, extreme poverty and disease permeate throughout the community. Illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS take the lives of people, particularly children, just as quickly as day turns into night. But in Ruhiira, there is hope. One Million Community Health Workers recruits and trains local members of the community to become health care workers.  One of which is Shallon Tusiime, a young mother, who has dedicated her life to helping her community.

This is what Shallon Tusiime does. She walks around her village with a backpack.  The backpack holds anti-malarial, family planning materials, weighing scales, oral rehydration solution and zinc, deworming pills, a health handbook and rapid diagnostic tests.  She uses these materials to provide over 155 households with health services. She distributes medication. She councils expectant women in their pregnancies. She provides medication and immunizations. She monitors the growth of children to prevent malnutrition. She takes people to health clinics. These are all basic, but immensely essential healthcare procedures that saves the lives of Shallon’s community members. These are all procedures that are not easily accessible to people of Ruhiira without the help of Shallon. And best of all, each and every one of these procedures are offered for free.

This is what Ms. Tusiime says, “I decided to become a community health worker because I was in love…I was in love with my community so I thought, let me go, and I do some services to my people.” Ms. Tusiime became a community health worker in 2007. Before that, she worked in an unrelated field in her community.

This is why we love and honor Shallon Tusiime as a Global Citizen.  Not only is she giving back to her community and saving peoples lives, she plays an integral role of making her community sustainable and self-sufficient. The work of One Million Community Health Workers, through the aid of The Earth Institute, does just that. They are recruiting and training local people across sub Sahara Africa and placing them in jobs in their own community, with the goal to have trained and place one million community health workers by 2015. These are people who speak the language, who understand the needs and wants of their community, and who are working on a grassroots level.

We honor Shallon Tusiime and we honor One Million Health Care Workers as outstanding Global Citizens.  And we ask you to honor them too by signing the petition calling on the Global Fund, Rollback Malaria, and UNAIDS to provide the funding needed to train and deploy One Million Community Health Workers to Sub-Sahara Africa.

by Sofia Van Raan, for the Global Poverty Project