Rose Anderson, Belize
Rose Anderson, from San Ignacio Town in Belize, is an avid advocate for health education and promotion in her community. For the last 15 years, she has been leading an initiative with the Health Education and Community Participation Bureau (HECOPAB) to train Community Health Workers (CHWs) in rural areas on topics such as diseases linked to poor hygiene, unsafe water and environmental risks, and communicable and non-communicable diseases. Over the years, she has planned and coordinated countless activities, including health fairs, wellness days and collaborative sessions with families.
Rose and her team monitor the growth and development of the children in their communities, help parents prevent diarrheal diseases in their children, and actively search for pregnant women to encourage them to take an active role in their health by encouraging them to join prenatal clinics by 12 weeks of pregnancy. They also support mobile clinics that visit the communities to make it easier for everyone to have access to health services.
Among her many successes in building health in her community, Rose counts working with neighbors who have faced complications from diabetes, hypertension, and obesity to help them change their eating habits and levels of physical activity and ultimately improve their wellbeing. However, these are not always simple tasks. "The important thing is that we are trying to change behaviors and we can't do this overnight," Rose says.
Rose recognizes her partners in different fields as key to the success of improving health in her community; she and the CHWs have collaborated with the Cancer Society, Help Age, City Council, the Women's Department, the Belize Family Life Association, and visiting medical teams.
"All these organizations help to provide the necessary resources to support our work," she says. "Even the Ministry of Agriculture helps us!"
Over the years, Rose has been a committed leader in her community who has tried in every way possible to make her fellow citizens happier and more comfortable. For Ms. Guerra, the Health Manager for the Western Region, the CHWs are really the heart and soul of HECOPAB and its efforts. "These are a special breed of people who go out every day to their communities to help people improve their health," she says. "Don't they all deserve our gratitude?"