Celebrating International Women’s Day: Profiles of a Few of the Women Who Make AIHA Work

March 8, 2018 – As with virtually every segment of the global workforce, women play an integral part in the health systems strengthening work we do at AIHA. From our partners to our staff and beyond, we join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day by profiling just a few of the many, many women who work tirelessly to help us achieve our vision of a world with access to high quality healthcare for everyone, everywhere.

We hope you’ll enjoy learning a little bit about these four amazing women who support AIHA’s efforts to strengthen health system capacity in low- and middle-income countries around the globe. By showcasing the few, our intent is to honor the many. 

Dr. Oksana Muliarchuk
Deputy Head Physician for Quality, Kyiv Municipal Blood Center, Ukraine

Dr. Oksana Muliarchuk is one of Ukraine’s most prominent specialists in transfusion medicine and blood banking and has been an active partner in AIHA’s CDC-supported Blood Safety Project in Ukraine since 2014.

She received an MD diploma from the Ternopil State Medical University in 2013 and a postgraduate certificate in pediatric surgery in 2016 from the National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education in Kyiv.

Oksana joined the Kyiv Municipal Blood Center in 2013 as a physician in the Blood Donor Collection Department and, in 2017, was promoted to Deputy Head Physician. In her current leadership position, she became one of AIHA’s most active and enthusiastic blood safety partners.|

Responsible for developing and implementing projects on blood banking, regulatory documents, and other relevant initiatives, Oksana has been a successful liaison between Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and other health authorities at both the municipal and regional levels. With the team of colleagues and supporters, she is effectively managing the complex operations of the Municipal Blood Center and acts as a coordinator and adviser for hospital blood banks throughout Kyiv. Her close relationship with local non-governmental and public organizations and associations has also greatly benefited AIHA’s Blood Safety Project.

Oksana has long spearheaded blood drives and other public events in Kyiv and, through her participation in our Blood Safety Project, was approved by the Ministry of Health as a national trainer in quality management and co-authored Ukraine’s Quality Management Systems in Blood Service Training Manual in collaboration with AIHA technical experts.

Through her active participation in the project, Oksana has become a national expert in transfusion medicine, blood safety, and quality management and is committed to ensuring the sustainability and future growth of the work we’ve done together. Over the last six months, she has conducted more than 10 training courses on appropriate clinical use of blood components for for Ukrainian clinicians, presented a number of webinars on quality management systems, and facilitated many national and regional meetings, conferences and workshops.

Rose Achom
Biomedical Engineering Technician, Uganda National Health Laboratory Services

As a student working toward her diploma in biomedical technology at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Rose Achom visited local hospitals where she routinely saw pieces of medical equipment laying idle or not functioning properly. She soon realized that although many of the issues affecting equipment functionality were minor, no one had the knowledge or skills to effectively repair and maintain these critical diagnostic tools.

“That’s when I first realized that I could make a real difference in Uganda’s public healthcare system,” Rose explains.

Armed with that knowledge and a vision toward the future, Rose earned her diploma in 2012 and started working as a biomedical technician (BMT) at the Uganda Heart Institute. She also served as a part-time assistant lecturer at Kyambogo and later went on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering at the Institute of Technologies in Burkina Faso through their English-based program taught in partnership with Kyambogo University.

During her first few years practicing as a BMT, Rose’s mandate covered all equipment, whether in the outpatient department, operating theater, or medical laboratory.

“I knew that I needed to focus on a specialization to further build my expertise, so I chose laboratory equipment because it affects all levels of clinical medical care from diagnosis through treatment,” Rose says, noting that without properly functioning laboratory equipment, it’s virtually impossible to properly diagnose and treat patients.

This decision soon led her to Uganda’s Central Public Health Laboratories and National Health Laboratory Services where she is a biomedical engineer supporting the laboratory equipment management program at the national central facility in Kampala, as well as across the country as needed.

Rose is the only woman who completed the comprehensive year-long biosafety cabinet calibration and certification program AIHA conducted through our CDC-supported in-service biomedical engineering training program for laboratory equipment. She is also currently helping lead the establishment of a national laboratory equipment calibration center.

When asked what it means to her to be one of a few women in this field, and a woman who is highly regarded in a male-dominated profession, Rose explains, “I hope I can be a role model for other women and young girls in Uganda to help then realize that they can succeed in the engineering field. For myself, I look forward to further building my technical expertise so I can serve as a mentor to other young women joining the biomedical technology field. I want to help them prosper in a technical area that is becoming more and more important for Uganda’s health sector.”

Martene Esteves 

Clinical Associate, Donald Gordon Medical Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Martene Esteves (pictured in the blue scrubs) says she has always had a passion for the medical field and for making a difference in people’s lives. That’s why she became a Clinical Associate – a relatively new mid-level medical profession akin to Physician Assistants in the United States.

Martene graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa in 2013. 

“After graduating, I struggled to find a job, but I never gave up!” she admits, reporting that she eventually found a research post at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. “I was working in pediatric surgery and orthopedics and spent the last two years there working on various projects, most of which are waiting on formal publication. 

Martene then secured a position at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, the only private teaching hospital in South Africa.  

“I work in the Colorectal Unit and my role is far more clinical now, and that is my main passion. Being involved in patient care and improving outcomes is very important to me,” Martene says, explaining that she provides care to a number of patients each day, many with colorectal cancer.

“I assist with the coordination of care for these patients and ensure they are not lost to follow up. I assist in the operating theatre three days a week and thoroughly enjoy these days. I also have consulting days where I see new patients, as well as patients coming in for post-operative follow-up, ongoing treatment, and management,” she continues. 

Martene has been a member of the Professional Association of Clinical Associates in South Africa (PACASA) – a membership body that AIHA helped establish to support the new profession – for more than three years and sits on the Management Committee.

“We strive to represent Clinical Associates in a professional manner. We have a great team and we all try our best despite having full time jobs,” she says, noting that PACASA is a purely volunteer-based activity. 

“I hope to continue to be a pioneer as a Clinical Associate,” Martene says. “I hope that I can open up the eyes of the South African healthcare system to the potential and greatness that we can bring if we all work as a team.”

Olena Dolotova

Administrative & Finance Assistant, AIHA Ukraine

Olena Dolotova (pictured second from the right) has been a member of the AIHA family since 2000, when she began working at our offices in Kyiv, Ukraine as a Financial and Administrative Assistant.

Over the years, Olena proved to be a valuable employee and partner, efficiently managing financial and administrative matters for our USAID-funded projects in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine for nine years. When these projects concluded, Olena moved to our offices in Pretoria, South Africa, where she took on new challenges as AIHA’s Regional Administrative and Financial Officer for our HRSA-supported HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program in sub-Saharan.

Currently, Olena is a financial consultant for our CDC-supported Blood Safety Project in Ukraine.

“We are proud to have Olena on our team because her support goes far beyond financial matters,” says AIHA Country Director Alex Voloc. “Olena has spearheaded so many activities to strengthen AIHA’s presence in Ukraine, but a crowning achievement has been bringing in the country’s first bloodmobile through her role in the Ukrainian Resource Center, a charitable foundation that we established in support of the Blood Safety Project.”

The bloodmobile was donated by project partners at the Central California Blood Center. Olena successfully managed the complex 9-month process of logistics and customs related steps to get the bloodmobile from the United States to Ukraine.

“She organized and registered the donation locally and even gave blood during a blood drive conducted by the Ministry of Health to celebrate the arrival of the bloodmobile in July 2017,” Alex says, explaining that it is now being used at Khmelnitsky Oblast Blood Center.

The entire AIHA team would like to use this opportunity to congratulate Olena on this International Women’s Day and thank her for all her support and devotion to the AIHA family of the past 18 years.

“We wish her all the best in her professional career in a peaceful environment in Ukraine and the region,” Alex says. “Her AIHA colleagues are happy to know her as a wonderful person and a highly qualified and reliable professional.”