Health can’t wait: How women are building a model for universal health coverage

By Julia Berman, Director of Development & Communications, Muso

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.

In 2015, Muso partnered with the Malian Ministry of Health on a Clinton Global Initiative commitment testing a new model for health coverage, in part by training groups of local Malians — primarily women — to provide lifesaving care in their communities.

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:

Photo Credit: Lucas Foglia

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.

Photo Credit: MASS Design Group

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.

Photo Credit: Tim Werwie

Before embarking, community health workers are outfitted with a backpack of critical supplies including folic acid, zinc, scissors, thermometer, water bottle, and amoxicillin.

Photo Credit: Tim Werwie

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.”

Photo Credit: Tim Werwie

At the new clinic, first-time patients fill prescriptions.

Photo Credit: Tim Werwie

Zeyna Maiga, a community health worker, after treating her first patient for suspected malaria.

Photo Credit: Tim Werwie

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.

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