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May 13, 2016

How Tech Can Improve Children's Health

Mali Health employs a strong team of Community Health Workers (CHWs) to ensure the health of children under five and pregnant women in the most vulnerable peri-urban communities of Bamako. These CHWs are members of our beneficiary communities, which facilitates community engagement and draws on local knowledge and strengths.

The mHealth project supports our health workers in managing community-based healthcare. Through the mobile phone app, CHWs collect specific information on children’s health, including vital signs like weight, height, and temperature. Mapped against the World Health Organization’s standards for healthy growth in children, if the information registered in the app indicates even a moderate level of under-nutrition, the app automatically prompts the health worker to connect the child and his or her caregiver to the formal health care system to seek treatment to help raise the child’s weight. The app also facilitates follow-up care, reminding CHWs which children in their case load have recently been treated and require more frequent in-home visits until the regimen is complete.

The health data collected through this project also allows Mali Health to track community trends and adapt our health education initiatives to respond to the realities in each community. This information can also be shared with local health clinics and local and regional affiliates of the Ministry of Health so that it can be included in regional and national health analyses.

Our current application was developed in 2014 in collaboration with D-Tree International and is used in the communities of Boulkassoumbougou, Lafiabougou, and Sotuba. For the next phase of our mHealth project, we’ve partnered with the Center for Expertise and Research in Telemedicine and e-Health (CERTES), a Malian company that specializes in health informatics. CERTES is developing a new application for our Action for Health program that expands upon the features of the current application and adds the ability to gather health data for the pregnant women and newborns in our programs. The new system uses a hybrid of CommCare, a mobile application used globally by field workers for data collection and case management, and DHIS2, an analytic application that is used to manage national health systems in several African countries. With this new system, we expect to expand mHealth at the end of May to six communities in total and 38 Community Health Workers using the mobile app.

Feb 18, 2016

Think You're Ready for the Hand-Washing Olympics?

Student in Mali Health Shirt
Student in Mali Health Shirt

To celebrate Global Hand Washing Day on October 15th, Mali Health organized a grand celebration for children from the communities of Sikoro and Sébénicoro. Mali Health’s team welcomed the mayor of Sébénicoro, school officials from the two districts, and teachers from the two participating schools to celebrate hygiene and hand washing practices at a public school in Sébénicoro. 

Under a banner reading, “Water, soap, and hands are inseparable friends in order to reduce pneumonia and diarrhea. I wash my hands to maintain my health, and how about you?” hundreds of children packed in around an open stage to participate in the excitement of Global Hand Washing Day. Mali Health emcee and DJ Abdou got students and teachers dancing with Malian music and led the afternoon’s events. Mali Health’s medical advisor, Dr. Diak, emphasized the importance of the celebration, reminding the audience that washing hands before eating and after going to the bathroom is the most cost-effective way to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea. Nearly 30 students from the two participating schools came prepared for Mali Health’s Hand Washing Olympics, each wearing the event’s specially designed t-shirt reading, “I like the people around me. I wash my hands with water and soap in order to maintain my health AND my friends’ health.” 

The first competition was a demonstration of how to properly wash hands using soap and water. From each school, one student demonstrated and another described the proper hand washing technique in detail. To reinforce their perfect demonstration, one of our Community Health Workers also showed the crowd the correct way to wash their hands. Afterwards, Toure brought up eager volunteers from the crowd to answer tricky questions about hand washing, and many of them answered correctly to receive prizes of soap and packages of bleach.  

The atmosphere was festive and entertaining, as the students’ enthusiasm and creativity got the audience excited about the hand washing celebration. Each school presented a skit to show how easy and important hand washing is. In one skit, a group of family members sat down to eat dinner, and the daughter who forgot to wash her hands had a stomach ache afterwards. Another competition required that students write and perform a song about hand washing, and the lyrical voices of the singers got the audience humming and clapping along. Two teams also showed hand-made drawings of each step of hand washing. 

At the end of the day, the Sébénicoro students ended up winning the contest, as decided by a panel of Mali Health judges. Nevertheless, we gave out nearly 15 sets of hand washing buckets, solid and liquid soaps, and packages of bleach to both of the participating schools. All students from the two schools had also recently received free medical consultations from Mali Health. The mayor, school directors, and Mali Health staff members handed these gifts to the students and teachers, who were thrilled to receive their well-earned rewards.

Participating Students
Participating Students
School Teachers Dancing
School Teachers Dancing
Nov 19, 2015

Look who will celebrate the New Year

4 children in Action for Health
4 children in Action for Health

This year in Mali, 1 in 8 children will die before their fifth birthdays.  That means that among the 2,256 children currently enrolled in our programs, we would have lost 282 young lives to completely preventable and treatable diseases like malaria, pneumonia, and malnutrition. 

But that didn’t happen.  You didn’t let it. 

Because of your support, we have not lost a single child to disease in nearly two years.  That’s incredible.  In a country ranked the fourth hardest in the world to be a child or mother,* not one family among the thousands in our programs has suffered the loss of a mother or child. 

They, and we, have you to thank.  Your support ensures that every family has access to the high quality care they need to stay healthy.  You allow us to train doctors to give the best care possible, and you help us send Community Health Workers to meet the hardest-to-reach families in their own homes.  Together, we’re building a continuum of care to guarantee that every child gets the healthy start she deserves. 

282 children will celebrate the new year with their families in just a few weeks because of you.  I’m sure if they were in your living room right now, they’d say “i ni ce, n terimuso.” (That’s “thank you, my friend.”)

With gratitude,

The Mali Health Team


*Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers Report 2015

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