Village families in the rural areas of Ouelessebougou face many health risks and diseases every day. In Mali, one in five children does not live past his or her fifth birthday due to preventable diseases such as dysentery, measles and malaria. The 2010 assessment found that the largest predictor of malaria events was cases of diarrhea – meaning that people who have frequent cases of diarrhea also have frequent cases of malaria. This suggests that those villagers who receive constant health training are healthier in multiple areas of their lives. Health education and disease prevention are key to enhancing quality of life.
The Alliance works with villagers who lack nearby, clean drinking water. Drinking wells promote improved health and sanitation. The newest drinking wells are near schools, which provide children access to water throughout the school day. The Alliance trains villagers to maintain more than 100 wells built by the Alliance and villages over the past 16 years. The Alliance provides the material, equipment, and supervision, plus casting concrete cylinders to line the well so it won’t collapse during the rainy season, and caps drinking wells for sanitation. Villagers dig 50-100 foot drinking wells to a safe depth in the sandy soil.
The Alliance works year-round with volunteer village health workers and midwives to teach sanitation and disease prevention. The Alliance provides ongoing training for 24 village health agents and 36 midwives. Each year, the Alliance’s Mali staff and a Utah-based public health team hold an annual training for 24 agents and 24 matrons at the Alliance’s compound in Ouelessebougou. Health agents and matrons decide, based on the needs in their villages, on what to focus for each annual training. Recent trainings have included sanitation and neo-natal resuscitation, hygiene, etc.
The populations at highest risk for malaria are children under the age of six, and adults older than 51. Mosquito nets prove to be the best antidote for malaria prevention, so the Alliance subsidizes the cost of the nets by selling them to villagers for $1 USD. Data from the Alliance’s annual assessment strongly suggests that families do not have a proper understanding of the causes of malaria, so the Alliance includes health training with every net that is distributed. Mosquito nets cost $7.50 USD on the market in Mali—a cost that villagers in rural communities cannot afford. A family of four can sleep under one net—protecting them from one of Africa’s most life-threatening diseases.
The Alliance has a long-standing relationship with the government of Mali to provide vaccinations in villages in and around the Ouelessebougou Commune. While the Malian government has the means to provide the vaccinations, they are unable to distribute them to the villagers in rural communities. Vaccinations are given for the following diseases: polio, yellow fever, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, hepatitis A, vitamin A deficiency, the flu, and tetanus. The Alliance has provided more than 55,000 vaccinations since 2003.
Village Health Plans & Village Health Councils
To help villages identify the most urgent health needs in their village, the Alliance created a “Healthy Village Workshop” in 2005. Two villages (Djemene and Soumaya) were selected to pilot the program. Village chiefs formed Village Health Councils and the Alliance facilitated planning sessions to identify health priorities in the village. Since then, eight other villages have implemented the program – Tamala (in 2006), Solo and Famana (in 2007), Bamakoni, Fadgiobougou, N’Tentukoro, Dialakoro Keleya and Bassa (in 2008) and Missadiebougou (in 2010). Since starting their health plans, villages have seen up to 86% decreases in malaria and 70% decreases in diarrhea incidents.
Critical Surgeries & Medical Care
One to two Utah-based OB/GYN teams travel to Ouelessebougou each year to perform life-changing surgeries for women. They also provide annual check-ups for children and model proper health care for village health agents.
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