A Vision for World Pulse
I was so excited when I read the invitation for applications to the World Pulse Community Board. Imagine how exciting it would be to serve on such a platform and to give voice to the many issues that affect women's lives! After I submitted my application, I realized that the call is for a women of the global south to serve on the board, and unfortunately, I'm not from the global south. But here is what I wrote, and hopefully I'll be able to serve World Pulse in another area, at some point.
In the field of global health, there is a saying that in developing countries, a pregnant woman walks with ‘one foot in the grave’— a saying attributed to the unspeakably high maternal mortality rates in developing countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, where 85% of the population lives. Statistically, WHO estimates that there are 450 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 9 in developed countries. While the majority of these deaths are caused by complications such as postpartum bleeding, infections, and hypertension, other causes include inadequate access to prenatal and primary care, by communicable diseases and poor sanitation, inadequate nutrition and lack of clean drinking water.
But what most people do not realize is that in New York City—the epicenter of American financial institutions—a woman of color is highly likely to suffer the same fate. In 2008, New York City had 30 overall maternal deaths per 100,000. For African-American women, that figure is 79 per 100,000, a stark contrast to the national average of 13 per 100,000. In a country where infrastructure and access are less of an issue, and birthing services are ultimately guaranteed for any woman regardless of her ability to pay, how does one begin to explain such disparities?
As a Registered Nurse of over 18 years, I come to the World Pulse Community with a sincere desire to share my clinical knowledge and understanding of women’s health issues. Beyond reproductive health, my clinical background will allow me to speak confidently to the many other health conditions that negatively impact a woman’s life before she ever becomes pregnant, such as heart disease, anemia, kidney disease and diabetes. I am currently working towards my master’s degree in nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner with a subspecialty in Community and Public Health. My educational preparation and research experience will also allow me to speak confidently to health disparities, how and why they exist and how we, as a world community, can work towards their elimination.
As a World Pulse board member, I would utilize my time to create and moderate a unique forum in which
World Pulse members could:
1) discuss and document their health experiences within their respective communities and countries
2) generate ideas about the ways in which we, as women, can begin to build sustainable models for
community based health centers, clinics, and health worker training programs
3) study and discuss successful health models that currently exist
4) build collaborations of women-led planning/focus groups that can help shape community health goals,
programs, and interventions
5) share culturally competent educational resources that would be housed in a “virtual library” here at World
Too often, the discussion on ending health disparities is limited to issues that relate only to money and access. We must all know by now that money alone cannot solve the world’s healthcare problems.
My belief is that women the world over suffer at the hands of culturally incompetent health care providers who do not understand that a woman is much more than her biology. She is the sum total of all her life experiences, that include her culture, ethnicity, heritage, language, spirituality and basic beliefs. Ending disparities will require that health professionals themselves become culturally competent – understanding and appreciating the differences between women—so that health care can become personal rather than institutional and transactional.
As a World Pulse board member, I would use my platform to educate other health professionals—particularly nurses—on the roles of ethnicity, heritage, culture and language in women’s health. I would seek to write, publish and speak on this topic as often as I can at the national, international and local levels whenever I am invited to do so. Unlike physicians, I believe that nurses are uniquely prepared to understand health from a holistic and humanistic perspective that extends far beyond science.
I am confident that my CV will reflect a unique combination of knowledge and “ground level, hands-on” community based work experience that World Pulse celebrates. I would be honored to become the “Voice of Women’s Health” at World Pulse.
(CV sent under separate cover)