OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE
^ Dr. Bathily with community leaders in Bamako who participated in COVID-19 training
As COVID-19 spread, we knew its impact on communities with limited resources would be profound and long-term. Our team worked nonstop this year to ensure that communities, families, mothers, and children were able to meet the unique challenges that 2020 brought them.
We checked in with our partners and our entire community-based team and together developed response strategies that would provide support where it was needed most – at the community level. Our partners report that, where they work, there have been no other resources to support their COVID-19 response.
As we adapted and reoriented our primary strategies, described below, we had three immediate goals:
Equip and train 16 partner community health centers to enable them to continue providing safe, quality healthcare
Correct misinformation and improve knowledge of COVID-19 to encourage the adoption of prevention behaviors in 16 communities (10 in Bamako, 6 in Sikasso region)
Restore attendance and continuity of maternal and child healthcare at 16 community health centers
EQUIPPING COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
Before COVID-19 arrived in Mali, we reached out to all of our community health center partners to assess if they were ready for it, or if they had received any guidance or resources. None of them had. As we secured funds for COVID-19 response, preparing our partners to keep their staff and their patients safe was a top priority.
While here are the supplies we were able to provide to our 16 partner health centers:
reusable cotton face masks, plus 3,000 surgical masks
cases of both antibacterial hand gel and bleach
cartons of examination gloves
cases of liquid, solid, and powder soap
COVID-19 information posters
TRAINING HEALTH CENTER STAFF and COMMUNITY LEADERS
In each community we serve, we trained small groups of 5 people: one group of health center staff and one group of community leaders, for a total of 160 people. Each group was not only given information about COVID-19, but also how to share that information with patients and others in their communities using visual guides and resources we provided.
The subjects covered included:
- Basic information about COVID-19
- The symptoms of COVID-19
- Modes of transmission
- Prevention methods and barrier gestures
- How to manage COVID-19 rumors and misinformation
HEALTH CENTER STAFF
In addition to the subjects above, we also trained health personnel in how to maximize hygiene and protective measures with their limited resources.
Though none of those trained had received any prior information about COVID-19, 97% of participants quickly mastered the content, as measured in our knowledge pre- and post-tests.
The types of community leaders who participated in the training included:
- Members of local government
- ASACO members
- Youth representatives
- Women’s group representatives
- Religious leaders
” At my health center, we were not ready to face this reality. Staff had not received training, the center had no preventive equipment. Anything that fed fear on the part of the population, also discouraged our staff. I noticed that some of my team stopped coming because they didn’t know how to deal with patients who might be showing signs of COVID-19.”
– Dr. Thiéro, Sabalibougou (SAB1)
COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS
Our team of 44 community health workers did not hesitate when COVID-19 began to threaten their communities. They knew from experience that maintaining continuity of care for pregnant women and children under 5 would be a challenge. But with protective equipment and new knowledge to share, they continued serving their neighbors with more determination than ever.
Through October, this is what they have achieved:
education talks on COVID-19
mothers gave birth at their health centers
children up to date on their vaccinations (2192)
newborn, child, or maternal deaths
” I am proud to tell you that the mother who was reluctant to go for her prenatal care has returned to the health center and she will give birth very soon. She has done her follow-ups on a regular basis since my discussions with her. Like her, most of the people who had stopped seeking care at the health center started up again.”
– Kadidiatou, community health supervisor in Lafiabougou
Radio is one of the most common methods for accessing information in the communities we serve, particularly where other forms of media are difficult to access. There is a strong history of community radio in Mali and in our own organization. Our team was more than prepared to quickly contribute messages to the airwaves to combat misinformation and encourage prevention behaviors.
In coordination with the National Center for Information and Education and Communication in Health (CNIECS), we produced radio spots and hosted live broadcasts on the symptoms of COVID-19, its modes of transmission, and its prevention, in two languages, Bamanakan (Bambara) and Senufo.
broadcasts of COVID-19 radio spots
live broadcasts in Bamako, with CNIECS experts, rebroadcast 9 times in Sikasso region
radio stations: Nièta and Dakan in Bamako; Kafokan, Watèni, and Wassolo in Sikasso region
COMMUNITY HEALTH CARAVANS
To reach those who we may have missed through home visits and local radio media, we created a mobile caravan that circulated in all health districts in Bamako. We traveled through neighborhoods, targeting public and gathering places like markets.
Accompanied on every outing by local health personnel, the caravan team gave communities the chance to interact and ask questions on any issue related to COVID-19, making it possible to provide good information and correct rumors in real time.
As we work to help communities stay healthy and informed, we know that COVID-19 has also disrupted livelihoods and further limited opportunities for vulnerable families, which makes accessing healthcare harder.
We adapted our Women-Led Health Financing activities where possible and have helped the cooperatives expand their operations. They are now sewing cotton masks, which we haved bought and helped them distribute, in addition to their soap. Here is an update on how the cooperatives are doing.
Moving forward, we are prioritizing ways to support more local, sustainable livelihoods that will support community health.
Our office is located at:
Hamdallaye ACI 2000
Rue 100, Porte 200
Commune IV du District de Bamako, Mali
Our US mailing address is:
P.O. Box 51632
Durham, NC 27717