From South Sudan to Thailand: Merlin health worker's journey to the Global Forum on Health Workforce
Thursday 10 February 2011
The second Global Forum on Health Workforce took place this year, highlighting the urgent need to invest in health workers in crisis countries.
Three Merlin health workers were shortlisted for the Forum’s Special Recognition Awards – awards which celebrate the dedication, hard work and commitment of frontline health workers. This is the story of Merlin health worker Miatta Gbanya’s journey.
The journey begins
One day in December last year, when opening my emails, I discovered that I had been nominated for the Forum’s Special Recognition Award and excitingly, would need to travel to Bangkok .
I also found out I would be giving a presentation and that I would be a Hands Up For Health Workers spokesperson. I was extremely happy about the news. Why? Because it was an opportunity to tell the story of health workers in crisis countries. I wanted to tell Merlin’s story. I wanted to use every opportunity to tell people what we do in the field, what the reality is on the ground - especially in conflict areas where the needs are the greatest.
I wanted to warn those listening that no matter how much funding is given to service delivery, if there are no health workers, it will be of no use to anyone.
I wanted to say that diseases may seem far from world leaders but they should remember that if they don’t invest in the health workers, we will not be there when they need us by their bed side.
I wanted to say that we need a global campaign to ensure that the health worker crisis issue gets the attention it needs.
Hours of travelling and I finally arrived at Bangkok, the time to voice these opinions had come.
Less talk, more action!
Bangkok was a time for me to reflect on my future role as a health worker who has experienced firsthand the impact a limited and de-motivated workforce has on the health of populations. I sat and listened to all the presentations and one thing I kept thinking to myself was there was lots of talking without any action. This will get us nowhere. We know the problem, we know what is missing - we must act now.
The Forum was a great opportunity to share my perspective from the field. I would like to thank Merlin for all its support and the Forum for inviting me and recognising the work I do as a health worker on the frontline.
I will continue to be a campaign ambassador for Merlin and spread the word about Hands Up For Health Workers wherever I go.
I’m now heading home to South Sudan, feeling tired but I got my Royal Thai Massage which was very much appreciated!