CARE and GSK: Training frontline health workers

Maya Awasthi, a staff nurse at midwife training supported by CARE and GSK in Daldeldhura, Nepal

Partnering for better maternal, neonatal child and adolescent health

This strategic partnership between CARE and GSK focuses on improving maternal, neonatal child and adolescent health by improving the quantity and quality of frontline community health workers and healthcare access in the most remote and marginalised communities.

Imagine being unable to access quality health services and receive skilled care when you are pregnant, or when your children are sick...

For millions of mothers and children in many parts of the world, this is a daily reality. 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, 99% of these occur in developing countries. Only 46% of births are attended by a skilled health worker and only 40% receive the recommended antenatal care, these figures are often dramatically lower in remote and hard-to-reach communities.

To help respond to the 7 million health workers shortage worldwide and the growing overall burden of disease, CARE International has been working in partnership with GSK to train frontline health workers and strengthen healthcare systems to reach some of the world’s most underserved communities.

Training frontline health workers

Under its innovative Reinvestment Initiative, GSK commits a portion of its profits in least-developed countries to strengthen community health systems and improve access to basic health through supporting training of frontline health workers with CARE, Amref and Save the Children. CARE is working with GSK in eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal.

This long-term partnership is now in its 7th year and has trained over 35,000 community health workers, providing more than 4 million people with better access to skilled health services and education. In Bangladesh alone the partnership has reached over 2.8 million people and for every 1,000 live births, 10 new-borns were saved in the area compared to baseline in 2013.

Midwife training session in Myanmar
Nam Kam Phone, a GSK-CARE trained Auxiliary Midwife from Htan Ma village, Lashio, Myanmar

Sustainable improvements

The GSK-CARE partnership not only trains the health workers with clinical skills but with confidence development and entrepreneurial skills whilst enabling community support systems and integrating with the Ministries of Health to ensure their sustainability. The initiative aims to create long-term improvements in health seeking behaviour and healthcare provision.  

Ramil Burden, GSK VP (Vice President and General Manager, GSK Malaysia at GlaxoSmithKline), said after visiting our project in Sunamganj, Bangladesh:

I was very impressed with CARE’s approach to building long-term sustainable solutions in health infrastructure, particularly the importance assigned to educating and empowering communities, and integration with the local healthcare system and Ministry of Health.

This, along with evidence of positive improvements in morbidity and mortality in the project area, demonstrates the great impact this programme has had on improving access to healthcare for the most under-served in this part of Bangladesh.

We’re recommending the approach used by CARE International in this programme as the ‘Gold Standard’ for all the other GSK Reinvestment programmes globally.

In 2014 the Frontline Health Worker Programme won the Big Tick award from Business in the Community.

CARE also benefits from PULSE – GSK’s volunteering secondment scheme – and we currently have three GSK volunteers in the Nepal and in Zambia as a part of the Live Well Social Enterprise.

Building on the lessons from seven years of working together, the partnership is scaling up the project activities in both rural and urban settings reaching more people more effectively, further strengthening and supporting the healthcare workers and ensuring the healthcare systems are responsive to the needs of the communities they serve.