This is a guest post from Ron Sconyers: CEO and President, Physicians for Peace
Nearly 10 years ago, I was given the opportunity to join Physicians for Peace, an international nonprofit located in Norfolk, Virginia that transforms lives by training local healthcare professionals in developing regions to serve quality care in their communities. It wasn’t too long after starting my new post that I found myself in Nigeria with a team of Physicians for Peace International Medical Educators (IME’s) teaching a group of nearly 50 health practitioners the basic skills in neonatal resuscitation. At the end of our first training day, a pediatrician with 20 years of experience walked up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “If I had known what you taught me today, my own baby would still be alive.”
This was as powerful a moment as I’ve had as the president and CEO of Physicians for Peace. This woman wasn’t a bad mother or an incompetent doctor. Rather, a victim of a growing public health issue in developing countries: the lack of relevant training and education for health care providers. This issue affects millions across the world. It kills mothers and leaves their children with an ever-shrinking chance of survival. The cruel reality is, however, that it’s largely preventable.
At Physicians for Peace, we believe education is the most effective solution to some of the world’s most serious global health challenges and envision a world where no one struggles with illness, disability or death due to the lack of quality local healthcare.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion people lack access to basic healthcare services, simply because their communities don’t have enough trained health workers. Limited access to healthcare debilitates communities, and creates dramatic differences in health that are morally unacceptable. If people aren’t healthy, they can’t pull themselves, or their families, out of poverty. This can leave people vulnerable to social and economic conditions that are beyond their control.
In desperate places around the world, every minute of every day, a woman dies giving birth . The situation is aggravated by the fact that only 66 percent of women in developing countries have access to a midwife, doctor, or nurse during childbirth and more than eight million children die annually pre/post-delivery or during their first week of life. A trained midwife could easily save these lives.
Physicians for Peace mobilizes teams of committed healthcare providers who want to share knowledge and make a difference in the world. We are leaders in healthcare education, with a reputation for delivering thoughtful approaches to patient-centered care. In practice, that means we teach our colleagues how to care for all of a patient’s needs.
By leading with education, Physicians for Peace creates a path to better health for entire communities. One doctor. One nurse. One physical therapist. Think how many people they can train and heal. That’s the power of education. Rather than healing one person, we teach others to heal, so they in turn can heal many.