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Reflections from Dr. Djoumé Diakité: My time in San Francisco

This July, I had the opportunity to visit Muso’s San Francisco office for the first time, as well as formalize Muso’s relationship with the HEAL Initiative during the UCSF HEAL Fellowship Training Program.  As we prepare to host our first HEAL Fellow this August, the training emphasized how we can assist HEAL Fellows in developing their own work plan, and mentor their skills and activities.

The HEAL Initiative trains frontline health professionals in some of the world’s poorest and most isolated places.  This program brought together global health Mentors and Fellows from all over the world to discuss our work in improving health systems and strengthening leadership, and ultimately improving access to quality care among the poorest populations around the world. The training not only emphasized learning from our varied experiences, but also establishing networks between global health professionals, mentors, and fellows, to help build careers and partnerships.

We attended various workshops and sessions throughout the HEAL Initiative training program, and as a Mentor, I shared the experiences Muso has gained over the years, especially around socio-cultural and professional integration. Smooth integration at the start of a fellowship experience will maximize the Fellow’s contribution to the organization, as well as their own professional development to continue their careers.

Although this is Muso’s first year working with HEAL fellows, we have a long history of accepting American fellows in Mali who contribute to our work in research, communications, and health systems.

This August, Muso’s Bamako office will be welcoming HEAL Fellow Dr. Mariano Matias Iberico who will support ongoing innovations and improvements to Muso’s proactive healthcare delivery model to strengthen health systems in Mali.

Muso works very closely with the Malian Ministry of Health (MoH), and I had the opportunity to share an inside look into our collaboration to develop and implement Mali’s five year health plan at UCSF.  

This was presented in two parts: 1) the implementation of our proactive model in Mali, including its successes, challenges, and lessons learned; 2) the overall impact of our work, the 10X reduction in child mortality three years after roll-out, and addressing patient barriers to accessing care.

Muso also contributed to the development of a national CHW scale-up plan with the MoH. Our current three-year study in the Bankass district of Mali looks at the impact and feasibility of eliminating financial barriers, the role of robust CHW supervision, and increasing active CHW coverage and case finding.  Policy changes are challenging, but with perseverance, patience, and supporters in the field, we hope to realize these goals and transform health systems.  Our HEAL Fellow will contribute to these goals.

I was fortunate to spend time with other leaders and our longtime partners in global health, such as Living Goods and Medic Mobile.  At the Muso office in San Francisco, I was able to meet with Medic Mobile – our tech partner who developed our mHealth platform – where we exchanged ideas on our current activities in Mali, and the challenges related to developing a relevant app for the collection and analysis of field data.

Discussing strategy and plans for programming was invaluable, and I have much gratitude towards Muso’s US team for their welcome, hospitality and making this an enjoyable experience.  Of course no trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, and a hike through Muir Woods! I definitely indulged in playing the tourist and look forward to coming back to San Francisco at some time in the future. Until then, I will play the guide when our US colleagues come to Bamako, Mali.  

Dr. Djoumé Diakité is Muso’s Program Director and a co-founder of the organization.


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