New Neighbors, New Patients: Bringing New Residents into the Health System

Yirimadjo is a rapidly growing peri-urban area on the outskirts of Mali’s capital city, Bamako. It’s in these communities where Muso first launched. We have since grown exponentially, and are on our way to serve 300,000 people across Mali by the end of 2017.

Every day, Muso Community Health Workers go door to door looking for sick patients to treat in the home or connect with free access to care at government run clinics. Our CHWs maintain the trust of current community patients, while building new relationships with newcomers.

New residents to Yirimadjo often have little reason to believe that the health system is here to help them. “Every week I meet new families who just moved here,” says Sekou Ali Diarra, a young Muso CHW whose own family relocated near the base of the hills that frame Yirimadjo when he was young. “At first they never believe that I can treat their kids for free.” Mali’s decentralized, pay-to-use health system has left many residents excluded, with few safe, affordable treatment alternatives available. Mothers too often die from otherwise manageable birth complications in their homes, and children die from treatable illnesses without ever having consulted a doctor.  

Housing options in Yirimadjo run the gamut from large, fairly modern family compounds abutted against the ever-bustling community market, to under-constructed but inhabited cinderblock shells, tucked back into the windswept hills. Fully paid property in the Yirimadjo hills eliminates the burden of monthly rent, but significantly increases distance to a health center – thereby lowering the likelihood of visiting a health center early enough after symptom onset.

Just getting out of the hills at all – not to mention the subsequent journey to the main, paved road that eventually passes by the front entrance of the health center – is not easy: public transit does not come close to reaching this area, and flagging down a motorcycle for a lift is quickly complicated when a third or fourth sick, young passenger is involved. Many instances like this can cause families, whose previous experience with the health system might have meant higher expenses than they can manage, feel forced to wait out an illness anxiously at home.

These are precisely the situations that Muso’s proactive care model was designed to alleviate. Sekou says “it only takes a few conversations, to treat their child once before [these new families] realize that what I’m saying is true, and I’m here to help.” Every week among his regular family visits, Sekou keeps an eye out for new families in his neighborhood to bring them into the system too. “Once they believe, there’s no problem.”

Learn more about how the Muso Model works here.

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