IntraHealth International

Our commitment: IntraHealth is a global champion for health workers. We have pledged to double our impact between 2011 and 2015 to ensure that more health workers are present, ready, connected, and safe. Mission: IntraHealth empowers health workers to better serve communities in need around the world. We foster local solutions to health care challenges by improving health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships. ...
Oct 11, 2016

Collaboration is Key for Successful Healing

Patients at the health center
Patients at the health center

The women at the Koulikoro referral health center in Mali each have their own personal obstetric health histories which have affected their lives. Each comes to the facility hoping to undergo a successful repair surgery to heal her fistula. Their accounts reveal some unmistakable parallels:

Sali is 27 years old and developed obstetric fistula during her second pregnancy. After laboring for three days, she received an emergency cesarean to remove her stillborn child. She’s lived with a fistula for nine years and has lingering incontinence after receiving two previous fistula repair operations. Of two total pregnancies, she has only one living child.

Korotimi is 43 years old and developed obstetric fistula after 24 hours of labor during her third pregnancy. She’s lived with a fistula for 10 years and has lingering incontinence after two previous repair operations. Of seven total pregnancies, she has two living children.

Doussouba is 61 years old and developed obstetric fistula during her eighth pregnancy after laboring at home for three days. She’s lived with incontinence for more than 20 years. Of eight total pregnancies, she has three living children.

Their stories reflect a health system that offers inadequate access to high-quality perinatal care. But their narratives also uncovered a much larger systemic problem: how to provide the multifaceted support necessary for these women who have fallen through the cracks of a struggling health system and been left to endure the debilitating consequences.

Their most obvious and immediate need is for physical healing. But many different levels of health providers are needed to addresses the physical and psychosocial needs of these women. And, although each cadre provides a different specialization, collaboration is the key underlying factor for successful healing. Each member of the fistula repair team—nurses, surgical aids, anesthetists, surgeons—has an official role, but also understands the imperative need for cooperation and collaboration. Surgical aids calm anxious clients. Anesthetists help clean patients. Nurses chase mosquitoes out of bed nets.

These health workers are united in their goal of serving women and playing their part in the holistic model that has made this project successful. This multidisciplinary and multilayered approach of the health care team offers a glimpse of the solidarity and dedication required not just to perform successful repair surgeries, but to fully and wholly cure a women suffering from obstetric fistula.

* A version of this report written by Ingrid Marzoula was orginally published on Vital, IntraHealth's blog

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Aug 9, 2016

What's the Cure for Stigma?

Welcome center for victims of fistula
Welcome center for victims of fistula

The stigma surrounding fistula is a challenge to overcome in its own right. Education and awareness campaigns are essential to overcoming the stigma that surrounds this devastating birth injury. Stigma is often the culprit that prevents women from seeking the medical help they need to heal. The Restore Dignity project seeks to counter stigma in a variety of ways, from radio messages and TV ads, to working with community health workers to identify those in need of treatment. Women who have undergone fistula repair surgery are often key ambassadors in helping identify and contact other women in the community who are in need of treatment but do not feel comfortable or safe seeking it out.

The Restore Dignity project takes into account the suite of barriers that prevent women from seeking care and undergoing surgery – a simple surgery that will change their life for the better and allow them to reintegrate into society. The project and its partners seek to advance the global community’s understanding of the physical, social, and financial needs of women who have suffered, or continue to suffer, the scourge of fistula, and to augment the innovations and resources aimed at ending fistula and restoring women’s dignity.

This holistic approach this project takes to fistula treatment and prevention has yielded impressive results. The training and recruitment of health workers at all levels has resulted in 609 women receiving surgical fistula repair and 78% of eligible women repaired are now using a family planning method. The increase use of family planning is a result of the education and awareness campaigns which are interwoven into the care package. In addition, treatment addresses women’s physical and psychosocial needs.

During the World Fistula Day celebration on May 23, two IntraHealth staff members – the Mali Country Director and the International Program Director for West Africa – received awards from the Mali Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene for the project’s dedication to restoring the dignity of women suffering from fistula. These leaders and their teams have overseen the opening of a new welcome center for fistula clients at Sikasso Hospital, distributed 280 dignity kits to women undergoing repair, expanded the availability of repair services into two additional districts, implemented income generating opportunities for 50 women, and planned mental health interventions for all affected women.

Despite these achievements, the need is still great. Every year more women and girls develop fistula. It is imperative that the treatment approach include an understanding of societal norms in Mali and address not only physical needs, but also the deep-seeded societal stigmas that played a leading role in creating the problems to begin with. 

Health workers receiving certificates
Health workers receiving certificates
Jun 9, 2016

Ethiopia Final Report

This project supported the training of community nursing students in Ethiopia's Alkan Health Science College. Originating from rural communities, the nursing students completed a 36-month program at Alkan's Dessie campus in the rural highlands of the Amhara region. In addition to formal medical training, these students also gained a concrete understanding of the importance of returning to their remote communities after graduating in order to increase access to primary health care services.  

Many of these students have first-hand experience of how challenging it can be to find a health worker when a family or community member is facing a medical emergency. IntraHealth International has been helping Ethiopia to strengthening the country’s systems to train, manage, recruit, post, and retain a high-quality and equitably distributed health workforce, yet much remains to be done to ensure every family has access to high-quality, integrated health services. The country’s health system continues to face challenges and human resources for health are both insufficient and poorly distributed, leaving many—particularly rural communities—without access to trained and supported health workers.

While the effort to scale up the health workforce in Ethiopia is ongoing, this project has had a positive impact increasing the number of health workers. This project has come to a close but it is our hope that the students who received training will inspire others to seek similar opportunities.

IntraHealth is extremely appreciative of the support this project received. We encourage our donors and supports to check out our other project on Global Giving, “Restore Dignity to Women in Mali.” Please also follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IntraHealth/?fref=ts) and Twitter (@IntraHealth). You can also stay in touch by signing up for our newsletter: http://intrahealth.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=24ebd0d55aceda622cfea925c&id=c460ab6686.

 
   

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