Sustainable health initiatives require village decision-making and hands-on implementation
- Villagers become self-sufficient in providing for their health needs in sanitation, nutrition, and disease prevention.
- Villages have a preventive health delivery system including:
- Effective Health Agents and Matrons
- Effective Health Councils and viable village health plans
- Villages have access to healthcare, including OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Dentistry and Pharmaceuticals.
14-15 Health Projects
Healthy Village Plans
To identify the most urgent health needs in each village, Healthy Village Workshops were created in 2005. Village chiefs form Village Health Councils and the Alliance facilitates planning sessions to help villagers identify their goals for a healthier village. The Healthy Village Workshop is a three phase process, with villages completing a phase a year. Since 2005, 14 villages have completed all three phases. Since health plans began, incidences of malaria and diarrhea have decreased by significant amounts. Village cleanliness has improved with the use of purchased brooms, rakes and other cleaning materials. Children and families are taught the importance of clean water solutions, vaccinations and proper sanitation.
This year, Neneko and Farani will complete Phase III and Kaban will begin with Phase I.
Health Care System and Training
Our Health Agents and Health Matrons are the first line of defense against health related issues in our 25 villages. Each village has 1 agent and 1 matron. Health Agents can deal with minor wounds, provide CPR and are able to identify common diseases that require further care. In addition, they are critical to the successful distribution of mosquito nets and other health care programs. Health matrons provide pre-natal advice to pregnant women and are available to help with child delivery either in the village or at the public hospital. They also provide critical guidance to new mothers by teaching them the importance of nutrition, breastfeeding and the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life. Both the village health agent and matron sit on the Healthy Village Council to provide support on all village health initiatives.
Each year, the Alliance staff holds an annual training for the agents and 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, neo-natal resuscitation, hygiene, water sanitation and nutrition.
This year, agents and matrons will provide monthly reports on village health activity. In addition, matrons will choose a younger woman to serve as their apprentice. These “matrons-in-training” will be invited to the annual training held in the spring.
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 approximately $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 for up to 3 years—protecting them from one of Africa’s most life-threatening diseases.
This year the Alliance plans to distribute over 1,200 nets.
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 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.
This year the Alliance will provide approximately 4,000 vaccinations to babies and children under the age of 5.
This year the Alliance is implementing an agricultural program specifically aimed at village women. In partnership with Feed the World, Alliance staff will work with the Ouelessebougou Alliance Women’s Association garden to provide training and increase productivity. The Alliance will invest in improving the basic infrastructure of the garden so that women from other villages can be trained at the garden as well.
Critical Surgeries & Medical Care
One billion people worldwide lack adequate access to primary healthcare. The situation is especially severe in sub-Saharan Africa where access to affordable health care and medicine is complicated further by geography, extreme poverty and cultural traditions. The Alliance partners with local Utah medical teams to provide services that are either unavailable or too expensive for our village friends. In line with our goal to strengthen the sustainability of our efforts, medical expeditions work with local Malian doctors and medical staff and also involve our village health agents and matrons.
OB/GYN, dental and ophthalmology teams travel to Ouelessebougou to perform surgeries, provide annual check-ups for children and model proper health care for Malian health workers.
This year, two ophthalmology expeditions will provide cataract surgeries, eye exams and provide eye glasses. An OB/GYN team will also travel over and provide life-saving procedures such as prolapsed uterus removal and fistula repairs.