On this year’s International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of some of the women who have made a significant contribution to healthcare within East Africa. We also highlight the efforts of organisations that are committed to improving health outcomes for women within the region.

1. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in conjunction with Burundi’s Ministry of Health

The World Health Organisation estimates that every year, between 50,000 to 100,000 women worldwide develop an obstetric fistula i.e. a hole in the birth canal caused by obstructed labour. Burundi accounts for approximately 1200 of these cases. Since July 2010, Burundi’s Ministry of Health in conjunction with MSF have provided the country’s only FREE fistula care facility at The Urumuri Centre, located in the city of Gitega. During this period, 1000 operations have been performed. Unfortunately this centre risks closure due to the lack of trained medical staff. Please support their efforts here: MSF Focus on Burundi

2. Dr. Wambui Waithaka, Kenya

Dr. Wambui Waithaka is a Physician who serves as the National Treasurer of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya’s first doctor’s union. She uses this position to highlight the deplorable state of affairs in Kenya’s public healthcare facilities. She has recently been selected as an Acumen Fund East African Fellow: Wambui Waithaka

3. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho is a paediatrician and a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School who also serves as Rwanda’s Minister of Health. She is an integral part of a health ministry that has achieved impressive reductions in infant and maternal mortality in line with the Millenium Development Goals. Every other Monday, you can follow her #MinisterMondays chats on twitter, where she responds to questions posed by her fellow Rwandans and the international health community. Follow her @agnesbinagwaho and read her blog here: Dr. Agnes

4. Dr. Julie Makani, Tanzania

Dr. Julie Makani is a Tanzanian haematologist with a specialist interest in Sickle Cell Disease. She has one of the world’s largest single-centre cohorts of sickle cell patients. Through this she has developed high level partnerships with leading international institutions. She is the founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania and a recipient of the 2011 Royal Society Pfizer Award. She is currently running a campaign to increase public health awareness of sickle cell disease. See more here: The Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

5. Esther Madudu (Uganda) in conjunction with AMREF

“Throughout history, more women have died in childbirth than men have died in battle” – Mahmoud Fathalla, founder of the Safe Motherhood Initiative

Esther Madudu is a midwife working at Tiriri Health Center IV in Katine District, Uganda. She was trained by AMREF as part of their ‘Stand Up for African Mothers’ campaign which aims to train 15,000 midwives by 2015.  To draw attention to the plight of African Mothers and the urgent need for more midwives in Africa, AMREF is calling for the symbolic nomination of Esther for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

Sign the petition here: Stand Up for African Mothers

This list is by no means conclusive. We celebrate the efforts of all who believe in an equal progressive world!