How Women are Building a Model for Universal Health Coverage
If you educate a woman, you educate her family, her community, and her entire country. — Malian proverb
Around the world, we face a crisis in maternal and child mortality. The evidence is staggering: Nearly 6 million children die before their fifth birthday and 300,000 women die from complications during pregnancy. Mali is at the epicenter of this crisis.
Dr. Fousseni Diarra, the medical director at the Doundé health center, expressed a sentiment echoed many times in the lead up to today’s launch at the various clinics: “We never thought it was possible. But once construction began on the health center, we knew something was different about Muso.”
To date, we’ve trained more than 400 community health workers and reached 300,000 people across Mali. I’m so proud to share a few images of these inspiring women at work:
In regions like Yirimadjo, Mali we’ve trained community health workers to conduct door-to-door home visits, proactively seeking patients. These women have become fixtures in their communities, providing crucial in-home medical services — from malaria treatment to prenatal consultations and preventive education — day in and day out.
In the rural Bankass district of Mali, rates of maternal and child mortality are among the highest in the world. For years, primary care clinics were disused or in disrepair. Through eight new clinics, we aim to provide health care for 125,000 in the region. To ensure care for those in the hardest-to-reach areas, a cadre of community health workers travel door-to-door across the surrounding regions, seeking patients.
Before embarking, community health workers are outfitted with a backpack of critical supplies including folic acid, zinc, scissors, thermometer, water bottle, and amoxicillin.
The first day on the job is met with new experiences: entering new patient data, filling out forms, and asking the right questions. For some, like Fanta Guindo, this is their first paid job. “Maybe I’m a little nervous [to start],” she says, navigating Muso’s data collection app on her phone, “but with time that will pass.”
At the new clinic, first-time patients fill prescriptions.
It is thanks to these women change-makers that a new generation of children is growing up in Mali who don’t know life before universal health coverage and regular home visits from their community health worker.
Originally published on March 12, 2017 at Clinton Foundation Medium