Why We Must Provide Better Support for Pakistan's Female Frontline Health Workers
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Summary Points As the Global Polio Eradication Initiative deploys its endgame strategy, the commitment and effectiveness of field health workers in polio-endemic countries is critical. Ongoing attacks on Lady Health Workers and other frontline health staff in Pakistan appear to be an unintended consequence of the high political profile of polio eradication. Achieving polio eradication and strengthening Pakistan's health system now depends on a shift in the center of gravity of international engagement, away from high-profile engagement with federal leaders and towards supportive partnerships with Lady Health Workers and other ground-level staff. Nearly all women who work on the health frontline in Pakistan do so because poverty and a lack of other opportunities force them to accept a job with pay of under US$5 per day. Steps to support Lady Health Workers and to engage them as strong partners should include paying a living wage, developing world-class security strategies, and providing opportunities for career development and advancement.