By Ann Hudock
When one of my four boys gets sick, I am a combination of SuperMom trying to fix him and a basketcase of worry as I watch him suffer. It is so hard to see someone you love not feel well, and then wonder if you are doing everything that you can to help them.
Imagine how it would feel if you could do nothing to help your child, not through any fault of your own, but because you lived under a broken health care system. Imagine if you faced discrimination in trying to access care, or if you simply could not afford the treatment. Unfortunately, that is the reality for many mothers around the world. This Mother’s Day, I want to shine a light on those mothers around the world who deserve better health care for their children, and whose efforts to fight for that right deserve support.
Now that I help lead Counterpart’s efforts around the world, many of which are funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), I see every day how USAID and its partners tackle the causes of child deaths from pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and more. Worldwide, the lives of 100 million children have been saved since 1990, due in part to the work of USAID. In 2016 alone, USAID helped reach 55 million children with essential health services. Counterpart is proud to be a part of that effort.
Our work on social inclusion in Malawi – one of 25 priority countries where USAID implements maternal and child health programs – illustrates how we can make progress now on healthcare access challenges by simply listening to the people who face those challenges. Sometimes, addressing health care challenges is as simple as adjusting the operating hours of the local clinic. On a recent trip to Malawi, my team heard that exact story.
Last year, we met Cosmas, a HIV-positive teenager in rural Malawi in southeast Africa. “I want to go to school,” Cosmas said. “But, I also need my medication.”
Cosmas explained that the only time the local health clinic was open for him to get the anti-retroviral therapy medication (ART) he needed to stay healthy was during school hours. Cosmas was faced with a horrible decision: “Should I go to school or to the clinic?”
With our support, Cosmas voiced his concerns, and community leaders came together to formally petition the local health clinic to extend their hours. The clinic agreed, ensuring more youth with HIV/AIDS could receive their medications without having to miss school. Now Cosmas and his classmates with HIV/AIDS don’t have to choose between leading a healthy life on ARTs or completing their education.
I am very fortunate to be raising my children with the resources they need, and I never take that for granted. When my children get sick, I can easily take them to the doctor with the confidence that my health insurance will help to cover any cost. I have access to high-quality doctors and medical professionals. A well-stocked pharmacy is available to me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over-the-counter medicines are one click away through internet shopping, or easily tossed in a grocery cart at our local supermarket. I dream of the day when all mothers have equal access to care for their children, and I know that Cosmas’ mother has the same dream. Happy Mother’s Day, to all of the mothers around the world fighting for a better future for your children. At Counterpart, we’re doing our part to help make sure those dreams come true.