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Muso's Dr. Mariam Cissé Receives the 2022 Heroine of Health Award

On October 17, 2022, Muso's Dr. Mariam Cissé received the Women in Global Health's 2022 Heroine of Health Award in Berlin, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the field and her continued dedication to redefining Mali's health system. We take a look back on her career path in the medical world and how she got here.

From left to right: Stephanie Rapp, Dr. Mariam Cissé, and Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, Director general of the World Health Organization. Photo taken at Women in Global Health’s Heroines of Health gala on the sidelines of the World Health Summit in Berlin on October 17th, 2022.

Born and raised in Mali, Dr. Mariam has dedicated her life to caring for the health of her community, particularly in regard to child mortality. When it came time to go to university, Mariam initially hoped to study engineering. However, this changed when she repeatedly witnessed her family’s inability to access timely care for her siblings, resulting in the loss of three of her sisters. She began her medical career by attending the University of Bamako's Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry, and graduated in 2007. After graduation, she set out to improve the socio-health outcomes of Malians living in vulnerable communities, focusing on providing quality and timely maternal and child health services.

Dr. Mariam Cissé joined Muso in 2017 as Urban Site Coordinator in Yirimadio, an underserved and fast-growing neighborhood on the outskirts of Bamako, where she manages programs designed to address the high child mortality rate in the area. Dr. Mariam supervises over 200 Community Health Workers (CHWs) and ensures the delivery of rapid care in over 51,000 households. Under her supervision, CHWs deliver a package of life-saving health care services in the home, including family planning and treatment for children with common illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition. In 2021 alone, Muso-supported CHWs in Yirimadio conducted 1.6M rapid care visits and provided treatment to more than 15,000 children.

In her 20+ years of public health service, whether with Muso, Hellen Keller International or USAID, Dr. Mariam has trained hundreds of health professionals, directed teams, and oversaw the effective implementation of diverse health projects. In fact, over the course of six years, she trained approximately 6,000 women as health agents, equivalent to what we now call CHWs. Fluent in French, Bambara and Peulh, Dr. Mariam has worked with culturally and religiously diverse communities throughout Mali, training women on reproductive health and newborn and child nutrition. Dr. Mariam, a wife and mother of three, is also a leader and an important voice in her community. In March 2020, concern spread in Yirimadio following the rapid spread of misinformation related to the first cases of COVID-19 in Mali. Quickly, at the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Mariam organized an outreach campaign to provide education to the community per WHO guidelines. To further contribute to curbing the spread of the virus, she publicly received her COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available. The same day, 40 other women followed her lead and received their first dose. Dr. Mariam also led the successful mobile vaccination campaign in Bamako's Commune VI, which facilitated the administration of hundreds of thousands of vaccines. To date, Yirimadio holds the highest rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in Mali. Women constitute almost 70% of the care workforce globally, but they hold only 25% of leadership roles in the sector and are often low-paid and working in unsafe conditions. Through this Award, Women in Global Health seeks to shine a unique spotlight on women health workers and elevate the campaign for gender equity in global health. Dr. Mariam was chosen among a very strong field of candidates and accepted her award in Berlin on October 17th. Muso is very proud of her remarkable achievements and we look forward to continuing to see her light shine in the Yirimadio community and beyond. She has devoted her life to the cause of universal health coverage, fighting to ensure that the misfortunes her family experienced become the exception and not the norm. Dr. Mariam's unwavering commitment to enhancing maternal and child health outcomes redefines what health systems are capable of, and she offers the global community a roadmap for achieving health equity.

Dr. Mariam Cissé on stage with Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus and the other laureates of the 2022 Heroines of Health Award at Women in Global Health’s Heroines of Health Gala on October 17th, 2022.


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