Partners by Design: Mass Design Group
In our decade of operations, Muso has seen how strong partnerships can lead to bigger community impact. That’s why we have partnered with the global health architects of MASS Design Group to redesign and expand eight health centers in the rural Malian district of Bankass, where we are launching a health systems study in partnership with the Malian Ministry of Health. MASS Design Group designs innovative health centers that promote health and dignity for the patients their creations serve.
For MASS, design is inextricably linked to quality of care:
Architecture is a mechanism that projects its values far beyond a building’s walls and into the lives of communities and people. To acknowledge that architecture has this kind of agency and power is to acknowledge that buildings and the industry that erects them are as accountable for social injustices as they are critical levers to improve the communities they serve.
In the Bankass district, government primary care clinics existed, but they were in such disrepair and disuse that few patients made it to the clinic door. MASS architects visited Bankass—which has some of the lowest health care access rates in Mali—to talk to CHWs and health center staff about their needs in each of the eight health centers, which collectively should serve 125,000 people. Alongside Muso, they conducted thorough assessments of the current conditions at each site, and a needs assessment of what improvements were necessary to support increased patient capacity as Muso CHWs connect more patients to the health system. The MASS team’s analysis centered on how to contribute to improved health outcomes through efficient design that promotes a comfortable, healthy environment for patients and staff inside.
Materials and design have a large impact on maintenance, infection control, building longevity, and patient care. Throughout the construction process, MASS collaborated with the communities by testing and selecting local building materials and construction methods whenever possible, promoting environmentally favorable practices and a just process of construction. Taking advantage of Mali’s brilliant sun, MASS installed a comprehensive solar energy system for each center, ensuring adequate and reliable lighting for the clinic staff at night, refrigerated vaccines and pharmacy stock. An improved natural ventilation scheme was also emphasized in the redesign, which reduces heat and the risk of airborne infections. When Muso’s program in Bankass is fully launched this month, all eight clinics will provide—for the first time—24 hour care to patients in this remote rural area of Mali.
Since first collaborating with Partners in Health on a hospital in Rwanda in 2008, MASS has expanded to work in over a dozen countries in Africa and the Americas. Like Muso, their work spans design, research, policy, education, and strategic planning. And as we roll out our health systems study this month, we’re honored to share a transformative vision with MASS, working to improve health outcomes through practices of social justice and health equality.