Sharmila Anand Honored With Heroines of Health Award
CU Denver Alumna Empowers New Generation of Health Care Professionals
“What I have seen, even from only two years ago, is how young girls are believing more and more in their own abilities,” said Dr. Sharmila Anand, Managing Director for SEHPL in India. “When educators or family members give a ‘pat on the back’ to a child at the right time for a job well done, it can affect her for the rest of her life.”
Dr. Anand, who has given such congratulatory ‘pats’ to thousands of young women throughout her career as a social entrepreneur, doctor, and educator, was recently honored at the inaugural Annual Heroines of Health Awards ceremony at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. GE Healthcare and Women in Global Health joined together in bestowing the award to thirteen women from around the world who have been champions for improving global health for all areas of society.
The categories for honoree awards were: Increasing Confidence/Position of Women in Healthcare Roles; Health Workforce; Improvements in Maternal and Neonatal; Child Health; Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights; Improvements in Migrant Health; and Young Women’s Health. Dr. Anand received the award for the first category, and she was the only Indian woman to receive an award.
A documentary will be released in June that follows three of these women throughout their intense workday. It reveals how the tireless efforts of these dedicated women are making an impact on the lives and well-being of families in many diverse communities. The film highlights how Dr. Anand is empowering young women to become healthcare professionals and earn good incomes through a radiology training program.
“By educating a single girl, we are building national assets instead of creating national liabilities,” explained Anand. At the heart of SEHPL is a strong focus on educating the next generation of health care professionals to fill an urgent need for Indian communities.
Females comprise 75 percent of the global healthcare force in many regions; they contribute nearly $3 trillion to the industry. Education equals financial stability for many families; often, women are the main breadwinners. Yet women often go unrecognized and underpaid. The World Health Organization (WHO) is shining a spotlight on this situation.
Working in the healthcare field as a female, Dr. Anand recounts how she also encountered resistance and obstacles. But she well remembers the supportive environment that surrounded her as a CU Denver student. “I could never thank the University of Colorado Denver enough.”
When she graduated in 2008 with a master’s in business administration, her daughter, Ashile, watched online and said, “Mommy, I want to be like you.” Now Ashile has reached an age where she can accompany her mother on trips to villages in India.
“I am looking at being an educator as a way to build students’ confidence and empower them,” Ashile explained. “It’s good to keep a fluidity of thought, not to form presumptions, and to be open to a larger perspective.”
With a large smile, Dr. Anand countered, “My daughter has been keeping me on my toes since she was three years old.”
One of Dr. Anand’s dream goals is to work with international organizations in creating a leadership academy in southern India. “The process is about educating girls, their parents, and their brothers and friends. In creating a healthy society, women and men have complementary gifts. Collaborative relationships elevate the community as a whole.”
Dr. Anand is strong in her belief that developing educational opportunities is a way to give back to her country.
“My mom is inspiring,” concluded Ashile. “She works hard, has an ongoing belief in what she does, and her work makes an impact on people’s lives. And at the end of the day, she is happy.” She adds, “I am happy to go on this journey with my mother.”