March 8, 2022

Women who inspire us: International Women’s Day 2022

A nurse sits at her desk, consulting with a patient.

Winnie Sanyu Nakimbuggwe, a nurse and health educator in Uganda, sits at her desk, consulting with a patient.

Each year, staff at CHAI have the privilege of meeting many incredible women in our partner countries. We work with women who are transforming healthcare systems as doctors, nurses, community health workers, and administrators. We also meet the women navigating those health systems and hear about their challenges and how our work with governments and other partners is improving their lives.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we are sharing the stories of women who have previously been featured on our blog. We are impressed by their impact and their resilience and think you will be too.

Meet Amaka, a nurse in northern Nigeria.

Four times a month, Amaka walks to some of the remotest settlements in northern Nigeria to vaccinate children who are unable to attend immunization sessions at her primary health center. The trip takes hours and Amaka knows the vaccines may lose their potency on the journey.

Vaccines are very sensitive to temperature changes and must be kept cool, but not frozen, all along the supply chain—from the factories where they are produced to the patient receiving the shot at a clinic. If they get too warm or cold, the vaccines aren’t effective.

Amaka carries her vaccines in a blue insulated plastic container slung over her shoulder with a thick nylon strap. To keep the vaccines at the right temperature, she must partially thaw ice packs before inserting them. Too much moisture from the packs sometimes causes vial labels to peel off. Amaka says she does her best to protect her load, but still, she worries.

An innovative freeze-preventive vaccine carrier could be a game-changer for vaccinators like Amaka. In 2019, CHAI worked with Nigeria’s National Primary Healthcare Development Agency to pilot three of these new vaccine carriers. The results have been promising. Read more.

Meet Beauty, a pregnant woman in rural Zambia.

When Beauty went into labor in the early hours of the morning, she and her husband decided to wait until the sun came up to head to the township clinic—it was over 12-miles away from their rural village, and walking that distance at night could be dangerous.

The next morning, Beauty’s husband balanced her on his bicycle and began the trip. Soon, Beauty told her husband they needed to stop—she was halfway to the clinic and had begun to hemorrhage.

Obstetric hemorrhage is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Zambia. It accounts for 34 percent of all maternal deaths nationwide. Women who live in rural areas, like Beauty, are more likely to die from hemorrhage at home or on the way to the health facility.

Luckily, Beauty’s husband managed to get her to the township clinic after she passed out.

Once there, two nurses helped ensure Beauty survived. At the clinic, a nurse named Marjory applied a non-pneumatic shock garment (a stretchy wrap that stabilizes a woman in shock from postpartum hemorrhage by applying pressure to her lower body and abdomen) and arranged for emergency transportation to the hospital. Once at the hospital nurse Natasha quickly mobilized the theatre team to perform a caesarian section.

Both nurses were trained through a CHAI-led program that aims to ensure first responders are incorporated into the wider health system and equipped with the skills and tools they need to save lives. Read more.

Meet Winnie, a nurse and health educator in Uganda.

Winnie has spent 13 years and hundreds of hours speaking to teenage girls at her clinic in Mityana district, Uganda. She knows all too well the challenges they face when trying to access reproductive health services. Facilities don’t always have the space and privacy to provide counseling and services; run out of supplies, including contraceptives; and health workers bring with them personal biases, such as judging youth for being sexually active.

Winnie’s experiences exemplify two enormous unmet needs in Uganda: health workers who are trained to respect young people’s choices and facilities connected to high-functioning supply chains so they can provide contraceptives when girls need them.

Over the last four years, CHAI has worked with the Ministry of Health and six district health teams to develop solutions to these issues. The results have been transformative. Read more.


Learn about our work on maternal, newborn, and reproductive health

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