COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE IN ACTION
Follow along with our community health worker Gauansé as she visits some of the families in her care.
Like many parents around the world, Gauansé’s day starts early – at 5am, to be exact. She makes breakfast and lunch for her 8 year old daughter and 3 year old son, then packs her bag, walks the kids to school, and begins her day as one of Mali Health’s 35 community health workers.
WORKING IN SIKORO
Gauansé works in Sikoro, the community where Mali Health was founded nearly twelve years ago. Plenty has changed in Sikoro over those years, but in these steep, rocky hills, traveling by foot is still the safest and most efficient way to reach the families in Gauansé’s care.
MEETING PEOPLE WHERE THEY LIVE
Gauansé meanders up the path to visit the first family of the day. Hawa (4 years old), Wassi (3 years old), and Diatou (4 months old) live here with their mothers, Ya and Alimatou. Gauansé has been visiting the household roughly every two weeks since Hawa joined Mali Health’s program three years ago.
CHECKING FOR FEVER
Community health workers like Gauansé serve families in a number of ways. Gauansé starts her visit by checking Wassi’s temperature to make sure she doesn’t have a fever — a common sign of malaria, which can be very dangerous in young children.
TAKING BASIC HEALTH STATS
Gauansé also measures the children’s weight and arm circumference to monitor for malnutrition and asks their mothers about any recent symptoms of illness.
RECORDING HEALTH DATA
As she collects the information about the children’s health, Gauansé records everything in a mobile phone app, which will analyze the information and prompt Gauansé if the children are showing any warning signs of illness.
SEEKING HEALTHCARE EARLY
If any of the children are sick, Gauansé will encourage their mothers to bring them to the health center right away, where they will receive proper treatment and can start recovering quickly. Mali Health covers the cost of this care for children enrolled in the program so that families will not delay seeking care for fear of not being able to afford it.
PROVIDING HEALTH EDUCATION
After working with the children, Gauansé turns her attention to Ya and Alimatou. In addition to monitoring children’s and pregnant women’s health,Gauansé provides families with health education, discussing topics that frequently impact their health — such as nutrition, family planning, breastfeeding, and malaria — and giving them the knowledge they need to prevent disease and keep themselves healthy. Today, Gauansé focuses on hand washing in light of the upcoming cold/flu season; she doesn’t lecture, but rather engages Ya and Alimatou in a dialogue to learn about the topic together.
A HELPER THROUGH THE YEARS
In three years, Gauansé has been through a lot with this family, and she’s seen the children grow. Last year, when she learned Wassi was sick with malaria, she accompanied Wassi and Ya to the Sikoro health center, stayed by their side through the consultation, and made sure Ya got the right medication before they left. Health workers like Gauansé are not just providers for the families in their care — they’re friends, too.
ON TO THE NEXT FAMILY
With plenty of well wishes, Gauansé leaves Ya, Alimatou, and their children to walk to the next family’s home. Along the way, she reflects on how she got here: she was a nursing student at one of the local health centers when Mali Health began its work. Soon, she noticed a lot of children arriving at the center, referred by the Mali Health team. “I asked the doctor about the program,” she says. “I thought Mali Health was doing important work, and I wanted to be part of it. That’s how I became a community health worker.” Gauansé has been a proud member of our team for five years now, and we’re lucky to have her.