Mali Health believes in building on a community’s existing resources. We do not want to replace them, because we want to enhance them. Often, a community’s greatest resource is its residents – people deeply committed to improving life for their families and neighbors.

A central tenet of our organization has always been to build deep connections to, and within, the communities we serve.  We believe it is the only way we can develop local, long-term solutions

That’s why we deploy a team of 50 community-based health agents who can sit across from mothers, listen to them, and answer their questions. They are an essential part of our strategies to improve community health. They are also an essential part of how Mali and the world will achieve universal health coverage, through improved community health.

One of the greatest examples of the local leadership that is changing the face of community health in Mali is our team’s new leader, Dramane Diarra.

Dramane has been a part of Mali Health for 10 years, having joined us in October 2009. He has held multiple roles over the past decade. Beginning as a health promoter, he rose to lead the entire Health Promotion team. Because of his leadership of his department and several other important projects, like our role in the Ebola response and the subsequent Global Health Security Agenda, Dramane became our most senior program leader at the beginning of this year.

Dramane has as much experience and knowledge of Mali Health as anyone, and perhaps more than anyone.

But it is not just his past roles in our organization that position Dramane well to lead our team. Dramane’s role in Sikoro (see more from Sokone below) and his belief in the power of communities to improve community health, make him the ideal leader for the hard work we will do going forward.

We are at a critical time. We want to from collaborating with our community partners to implement effective strategies, to helping them sustain them. We’ve made progress, as with our participatory quality improvement approach, but our goals are immense and long-term. To reach them, we need someone who understands the communities we serve from within. We need someone who knows how to motivate and support other community leaders to join him – and that is Dramane.

Here’s how Dramane sees his work:

My commitment to community health comes from my firm belief that in every community, there is the power to improve health.

This power, at times, can be disjointed or poorly expressed, or even misunderstood and undervalued. But all it takes is to highlight it and to show communities how to use it; then the results will follow.

Everyone, whatever her level or his position, comes from a community; it is to this community that he or she returns at the end of every day. If every community understands the need to come together, every community can improve health.

As our work to improve maternal and child health continues, we are recommitting ourselves to strengthening the resources and leaders on the ground – helping them to see and use their power, you might say. In order to build local and resilient community health systems in Mali, we will rely on leaders like the one Dramane was in Sikoro in 2006, and the one he is today. 

The most powerful, dedicated, and impactful community health leaders come from within – and we are just getting started supporting them. Now, we are thrilled that our team is led by one.

Sokone is a community health worker in Sikoro. She’s known Dramane for many years, and here are her thoughts about our new team leader:

I have known Dramane since he worked at the Sikoro Animation Center before joining Mali Health. He contributed greatly to the development of Sikoro as an educator and by helping families enroll their children in school. That is the work that helped him to become known, respected and solicited by the people of Sikoro. Since his arrival at Mali Health, this son of Sikoro has been steadfast in his commitment to help disadvantaged families have access to quality health information and healthcare.

Like all the community health workers, Dramane helped me a lot personally. He has helped us become knowledgeable, competent actors so that we can inform the families in our community. This constant support of our team has led to dramatic changes in the health of children and families in Sikoro.

Hard-working and courageous, Dramane has always been available for the cause of Sikoro, from his childhood to this day. “

– Sokone Coulibaly