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May 24, 2017

Supporting Community Health Workers on the Front Lines: Tchaourou, Benin



What makes a global health program effective? Sustainability. Going door to door in communities, forming lasting connections and understanding the health needs of local residents is vital to making a project's implementations sustainable and effective. The USAID-funded Accelerating the Reduction of Malaria Mortality and Morbidity (ARM3) project in Benin relies on community health workers to provide one-on-one support for all of its intervention strategies, but especially in improving case management and treatment of malaria.

Community health workers in the Tchaourou Health Zone in Benin have faced significant challenges with bettering the health of pregnant women and children under five, especially when implementing the High Impact Intervention Package at Community Level (PIHI-c), a strategy to improve integrated community case management. Under ARM3, community health workers are trained on PIHI-c, which includes a package of interventions meant to fight the greatest causes of death in pregnant women and in children under five, including malaria.

These workers have been trying to address the health concerns of community residents, but malaria commodities were often out of stock in their local health facilities. In 2016, this began to change. With ARM3’s advocacy for supporting community health workers, and in collaboration with local NGOs who are directly supporting them, Tchaourou has been able to improve the basic health conditions of its community.

At an event this past March, the Mayor of Tchaourou, Sounoon Bouku Bio, handed over medicines to community health workers that had been donated by the municipality. “Community health workers play an important and critical role in improving the community’s health status, specifically for pregnant women and children under five through the PIHI-c approach in the Tchaourou commune, so supporting them ensures a quality case management of patients,” says Bio.

According to Bio, this batch of essential medicine follows the municipality's grant of XOF 900,000 (about $1,500 U.S. dollars) to local community health workers, and promises more grants are to come.

The director of the Tchaorou health facility, Nurse Benoit Godonou, and his colleagues are working to ensure the regular supervision for community health workers, allowing them to increase the number of new patients they can reach with their local services. "All of us at the health facility team and the community health workers are very proud of this donation," said Godonou.

Efforts to stress the importance of both keeping malaria commodities in stock as well as strengthening the capacities of community health workers will keep the successes that ARM3 has been able to achieve since 2011 going for years to come.





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