Mali Health Organizing Project

Mali Health empowers Sikoro, an impoverished urban community in Mali, West Africa to transform maternal and child health sustainably. We do so by: -Fostering the agency of residents and community structures to mobilize to address community health needs. -Promoting health education, prevention, and early care seeking. -Enhancing financial, geographic, and cultural access to health care for poor families.
Mar 16, 2015

Impact Through Communication

Moustaph meets with Awa and her children
Moustaph meets with Awa and her children

In the past year, Mali Health has focused on further improving the already significant impact of its programs.  In Action for Health, this meant training our Community Health Workers (CHWs) in new communication methodologies to improve their skills in adult education and behavior change.  Since the training, we’ve seen more families adopting the healthy behaviors they discuss with their CHW.  

According to Adama K., Coordinator of the Department of Communications & Public Affairs, the greatest achievement this year has been the increase in the number of women giving birth in health centers.  In 2014, 107 women in our Action for Health program gave birth at the clinic, compared to 78 women in 2013.  

Our CHWs are a vital link between our partner communities and the health system, encouraging families to seek professional care at local clinics when they need it.  Moustaph, one of our CHWs, believes in the importance of building strong relationships within the Sikoro community.  “I chose to become a CHW to help my community grow,” says Moustaph, “to meet the people who don’t have access to care and to help them stay safe and healthy.”  

“I was working with a pregnant woman, Sanata, this past year,” he said.  “She was in her third pregnancy, but she was still very afraid of what could happen.  I visited Sanata often, especially in the final months of her pregnancy.  I talked to her about her experience, what she was feeling, and about what resources were at her disposal, and I actually escorted her to a couple of her prenatal appointments.”  Moustaph’s commitment paid off, and Sanata is one of the 107 women to give birth at the Sikoro maternity ward.  She gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the end of 2014.  

Awa, another Action for Health mother, values what she has learned from the program and from Moustaph.   She considers him to be part of the family, and appreciates the honest discussions she has with him about important health issues.   “When my kids get sick from a simple fever, he wakes up even if it is late to accompany me to the community health center,” she said.  “This is very important for me.”  The health prevention information provided through Action for Health has also been valuable to Awa.  “Since I joined Action for Health, my life has changed a lot,” she said.  “Thanks to Mali Health, things are a lot better now because I implement what my CHW has suggested that I do and my family has fewer cases of disease.”

We are grateful for Moustaph and all our CHWs,  as they empower communities with the knowledge and skills they need to improve their own health.

Dec 15, 2014

Fear & Pride

Djibril Recoding Patient Information
Djibril Recoding Patient Information

I was afraid.  When I first heard that Ebola had reached my country, I was afraid.  I have worked for Mali Health for four years, so I have better knowledge than most about diseases like this.  While many people in my community didn’t believe (and still don’t) that Ebola existed, I knew different, and I was afraid.  What if I got sick?  What if my family got sick?  My friends?  My neighbors?  Ebola does not discriminate — we were all susceptible, and I knew it.  

So I volunteered.  I have been supervisor to Mali Health’s Community Health Workers for a long time now — I’ve provided guidance and support as they visit the families in Mali Health’s programs, offering education and health monitoring.  But now, I have joined them.  I am a part of this incredible team, visiting people who have come into contact with Ebola patients, monitoring them to make sure that if they have contracted the disease, we can get them treatment and protect others from infection.  I volunteered because fear moved me to action; I could not stand by, letting others charge into the fray.  I have the skills and the knowledge to contribute, and I knew I had to use them.  

In truth, providing education and monitoring to these Contacts is not much different than providing education and monitoring to anyone else enrolled in Action for Health.  We meet, we talk, I run some basic tests, and we make plans for the next time I will visit them.  

The difference, though, is the stigma around Ebola.  Many people still don’t believe in this disease, but those who do hold the same fear that I feel; Ebola is far more deadly than other diseases we face in Mali. When we started this work, the people we monitored resisted — many faced rejection from their families, born of the fear we all were feeling, and the people we monitored thought that we, too, would stigmatize them.  But we’ve taught them otherwise.  It’s true that Ebola is not like other diseases; it is far more dangerous.  But it can be beaten, if we all know how to prevent it and how to treat it.  

I am still afraid, but I’m proud, too.  Proud of my community for being willing to learn how to protect themselves.  Proud of my fellow Health Workers for taking on this dangerous, utterly necessary work.  And I’m proud of you for the compassion you’ve show, for raising your voice and declaring, “I stand with Mali Health, and we can turn the tide of this outbreak.” 

So I say: Thank you.  Thank you for your support yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  You make more of a difference than you realize.  You may sometimes feel distant from the work that we do thousands of miles away.  But know that every time I pull on my gloves before visiting one of my contacts, it’s like you’re right there with me, holding my hand, keeping me safe while I help my community heal.  

With gratitude,

Djibril

Links:

Sep 16, 2014

The Maternity Ward Delivers

Mother and Son - Assa and Yaya
Mother and Son - Assa and Yaya

In August 2013, Mali Health and its partner One Day’s Wages inaugurated a new maternity ward built on the campus of CSCOMSiSou, the clinic that Mali Health helped to build in 2010. This maternity ward provides a safe and private space for expecting women to receive professional peri-natal care from midwives and nurses. In the year since the ward’s opening, we have seen promising improvement in maternal health indicators.

The maternity ward significantly increased the number of beds and health professionals available to help women during delivery. It also provided a space separate from the rest of the clinic, away from patients with contagious illnesses, where women could give birth in privacy. Since the ward’s opening, the number of clinic-based births has risen slightly, and we expect to see that number continue to rise as the ward’s capacity continues to improve.

Critically, prenatal consultations (which are essential to a healthy pregnancy) have also risen since the maternity ward’s inauguration. The number of women who are attending their first, third, and fourth or more consultations, has increased significantly. The ward also offers crucial vaccinations for mothers and newborns, and the rate of vaccinations, too, is rising. The next challenge we aim to tackle is to increase the availability of particular vaccines and the variety and quality of equipment available to the ward’s staff. The most significant improvement is in the rate of family planning consultations – the availability of professional midwives has led many more women to visit the ward to speak with midwives about their options.

Community Health Workers in the Action for Health program meet with over 900 expecting mothers on a regular basis to monitor their health and development. Since the opening of the maternity ward, the health workers also encourage these mothers to seek consultations at the clinic, where they can receive counseling, as well as most of the necessary medications to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

The impact of the maternity ward is perhaps best represented by the story of Assa. One year ago, Assa fell ill and decided to go to CSCOMSiSou, As soon as the clinic's doctor informed her that she was pregnant, the midwives gave Assa helpful advice about her pregnancy and prescribed her the medications she would need at the clinic's newly constructed maternity ward. A Mali Health Community Health Worker ensured that Assa received pre-natal consultations and met with the clinic’s midwives, from whom she received constant support and valuable assistance. In June of 2014, she gave birth to a son, Yaya without any complications or difficulties. Yaya is now a healthy and happy three-month-old boy, and Assa still receives regular visits from Oumou. In her words, “I am so grateful for the support of the clinic’s midwives and my community health worker throughout and after my pregnancy.” She continues to go back to the maternity ward when her son falls ill and for his vaccinations.

Total Births at Clinic
Total Births at Clinic
Family Planning Services at Clinic
Family Planning Services at Clinic

Links:

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