Mediaplanet: What sparked your interest in this initiative?

Olivia Wilde: If there is anything I've learned in my travels throughout the developing world, it is that health care is essential for any other program to be effective. Education is crucial, but kids can't go to school if they are sick. I believe in comprehensive programs that are run by local volunteers. That is precisely how the Community Health Worker program is designed. It not only provides healthcare for people in rural areas, but also provides jobs for the health workers, many of whom are women, which has a profound effect on the community. I was so impressed with the program in action. The health workers are also collecting data on their smart phones that is compiled to provide an accurate assessment of global health statistics.

MP: What are some ways that your work with One Million Community Health Workers Campaign has changed the way you view global health?

RAISING THE STANDARD
Olivia Wilde on a recent trip to Senegal meeting with community health workers.
Photos: David Darg / RYOTmedia

OW: I now have a much clearer understanding of the extreme need for healthcare in rural areas, as well as an appreciation for how hand-held technology can educate both the health workers and their patients. Global Health is an issue that encompasses a large range of serious issues, from maternal mortality, to malaria. This program is the essential element in the effort to tackle each of these challenges. Without health workers, none of the innovative programs to save lives can be implemented. A Community Health Worker can provide education, bed nets, ambulance service, prenatal care and much more, while also carrying the pride of serving an important purpose in their own community.

MP: Can you describe one aspect of your trip to Senegal that changed your life?

OW: We visited a small desert village where the local community health worker was checking in on a new mother and her infant son. She sat, nursing her healthy baby, on the edge of her bed, which was protected by a mosquito net. I will never forget the feeling of relief that this family would be taken care of because of the Community Health Worker program. Too many mothers, and babies, die every year because of a lack of access to basic health care. Being a new mother myself, I am keenly aware of how critical pre and post natal care is, and I applaud the health worker program for attacking this global issue with such an effective system.

MP: What do you hope your work with One Million Community Health Workers will accomplish?

OW: I hope I can help draw global attention to both the Community Health Worker program and the issues it is designed to address. This initiative creates a sustainable plan to bring healthcare to sub-Saharan Africa. I look forward to watching it grow and hope to travel to other countries that have also made the commitment to save lives by training and employing Community Health Workers throughout their nations.

MP: How would you recommend that other people get involved in the cause?

OW: Spread the word. We can all do our part in helping the world meet the health related Millennium Development Goals. The amazing work of the Community Health Workers campaign is absolutely key to ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to life-saving healthcare.