Women's, Children's, and Adolescents' Health: Our Impact

{Photo credit: Barnabé Tchoudji} Women in the newly built waiting room wait for their children to receive vaccinations, November 2020.Photo credit: Barnabé Tchoudji

To read this story in French, please click here.The Government of Benin aims to implement a health system that offers quality health services to all citizens in a sustainable manner while giving more responsibility to local leaders. However, Government funds are not sufficient to cover the costs of this initiative, especially when considering health emergencies. For this reason, local authorities must identify alternative sources of funding for the care of their constituents.

MSH was formed in May 1971 by Dr. Ron O’Connor to focus on supporting countries as they strengthen their health systems and the local ownership needed to achieve sustainable change. In 2021, we are celebrating our five decades of health impact. But we are not going to celebrate this anniversary by reflecting on the past. We want to focus on the future of global health – the Next 50 Years.We turn 50 during a time when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of global health is on everyone’s mind and impacting everyone’s lives.

MSH will lead a new project to improve the quality and use of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and family planning (FP) services for young Bangladeshi women and their partners in the underserved urban municipality of Tongi in Gazipur, near Dhaka.

 {Photo credit: Modeste B. Gnitona}The women’s group Iréti’mbè and Ifèomontayo in Adja-Ouèrè has increased its income and launched a savings fund to cover the cost of health services for its members.Photo credit: Modeste B. Gnitona

Pour lire cette histoire en français, cliquez ici.Even when healthcare is available, it is not always accessible. In Benin, poverty prevents many women and their children from paying for essential health services.

 {Photo: Raphaël Gnonlonfoun, USAID Integrated Health Services Activity}A coach from Sakété-Ifangni health zone, Plateau, counting the number of active malaria cases in health registers.Photo: Raphaël Gnonlonfoun, USAID Integrated Health Services Activity

When Benin recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 16, 2020, the country’s health authorities understandably pivoted to pandemic preparedness and response activities to protect people from the coronavirus.But the pandemic threatened progress in the fight against malaria. According to the 2018 Benin Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA 2018), the mosquito-borne illness remains the leading cause of mortality among children under five years and of morbidity among adults in Benin, accounting for more than 39 percent of adult medical consultations. Disruptions to primary healthcare and malaria prevention and treatment efforts could have deadly consequences.

A health worker showing the app used during the SMC in the village of Guéné. Photo credit Jocelyn Akakpo

While the rainy season brings welcome relief to farmers in northern Benin, the wet weather also brings an unwelcome guest: mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can spread malaria, a disease that threatens hundreds of thousands of children’s lives across the region.But malaria can be prevented with several interventions, including medications provided during seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC). When the summer rain arrives, health workers supported by USAID through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) treat children with four monthly rounds of SMC.

“I look at my baby today, and what I see is the contributions of many. My family, health workers, my friends, and God - we made it!” -Beatrice KadzakumanjaOn November 17th, USAID’s Organized Network for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity joined the global community to commemorate World Prematurity Day. This year’s theme, “Together for Babies Born Too Soon- Caring for the Future,” aims to increase awareness, reach, and engagement, including families and health workers, in the care of babies born prematurely.

 {Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Patuma Mustafa (left) meets with members of Kalembo Health Center Management Committee.Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Namaseko, nine months pregnant, was taking an afternoon nap at Kalembo Health Center in Balaka, Malawi when she suddenly needed a bathroom. As she carefully got up, she remembered that there was no toilet in the maternity wing; she would have to walk to the further side of the health center to use the pit latrines near the outpatient department.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A clinical aide from Madagascar's Atsimo Andrefana region attends an in-person workshop.Photo credit: MSH staff

Since the start of Madagascar’s COVID-19 outbreak in March of this year, ensuring the continuation of routine health care services has been a challenge. Restrictions on movement and travel have forced health providers to adapt and identify innovative measures for providing quality primary health care in the midst of an epidemic. While in-person training and clinical capacity-building exercises have been curtailed, a timely switch to virtual training and mentorship has helped the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the MSH-led, USAID-funded ACCESS program meet these challenges and ensure the continuation of essential health services for women and children in remote regions of the country. When the onset of the epidemic threatened the deployment of 118 clinical aides in Atsimo Andrefana, Vatovavy Fitovinany, and Atsinanana regions, ACCESS and the MoPH rapidly developed and hosted virtual trainings and orientation sessions. These clinical aides—doctors, midwives, and nurses recruited to provide critical ongoing support to health facilities—help staff to implement activities needed to improve the quality of care, manage and integrate services, and strengthen data collection.

 {Photo credit: Vainqueur Degbeawo.}A container being unloaded in the department of Ouémé, Benin.Photo credit: Vainqueur Degbeawo.

In addition to knowledgeable staff, health centers need effective medical equipment to provide quality maternal and child healthcare. In Benin, equipment and supplies can vary from one hospital to another, resulting in preventable deaths of new mothers and their children. At Adjohoun Zone Hospital, Ouémé, a regional facility that serves more than 260,000 people, the lack of surgical equipment means that many pregnant mothers cannot access caesarean sections to avoid life-threatening birth complications.

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