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Lady Health Workers in Pakistan do more to help their communities

More than 90,000 Pakistani "Lady Health Workers" were once put in charged of teaching women about good hygiene, nutrition and family planning, though now it seems they may be doing much more, IRIN reports.

A new study from The Lancet Medical Journal, conducted by Save the Children U.S. and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Health Organization, found that children suffering from pneumonia were more likely to recover if treated by these women rather than in a typical health facility.

According to the source, in most cases, children who have pneumonia are given a single dose of a basic drug and then sent home. Families are told that if the condition worsens, they should bring the child to the nearest clinic for treatment. However, once the problem gets serious, most families are unable to get to a clinic due to money or lack of transportation.

The authors of the study wanted to see if the Lady Health Workers would be of help in providing home care to these patients. The study followed 3,211 children who were checked six days after the start of the home health treatment or who had gone to local clinics. They found that those who had home visits were able to start treatments sooner and fared better in recovery.

All workers are literate and have completed eight years of school but  have just three months of full-time instruction and one year of training. Because of this limited experience, all involved were closely supervised during the study, though researchers believe that this could be a life-saving program in the future.

With more research and aid from humanitarian groups, more women can be trained to be self-sufficient while residents from all areas can get access to proper health care treatments.
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