In January, our community health worker team celebrated another year of not losing a single mother or child in their care. Their achievement is remarkable in any given year, but the disruptions posed by the pandemic makes these past two years particularly extraordinary.

Community health workers are essential to our efforts to improve access to quality healthcare in peri-urban communities. Part of what makes our team so effective and resilient is their high level of knowledge and experience. Continual training and supervision are foundations of our community health worker program, but they’re not ones that we talk about very often.

Dr. Bathily oversees the medical aspects of our community health program, which includes training our entire team of community health workers (CHWs) at least twice per year. Regular training not only keeps their knowledge current, but it also offers opportunities for CHWs to talk through the different situations they face every day. Dr. Bathily helps our CHW team troubleshoot when challenges arise to help families prevent illness, or ensure that all children access care quickly when they need it.

Dr. Bathily standing before a group of CHWs at the Mali Health office
Dr. Bathily leads a training on family planning for community health workers

Dr. Bathily, and our Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator Boubacar Fomba, keep in constant touch with our community health center partners, including monitoring the visit information of children in the program, so that the CHW team can target their health messages and counseling when needs arise, or if there is an increase in visits. This close collaboration ensures that the ongoing training and supervision of our CHW team is addressing the most urgent needs that health centers are seeing on the ground.

Boubacar Fomba presenting at CHW training
Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator Boubacar Fomba presents data during CHW training

Dr. Bathily also serves as a quality improvement coach working with partner health centers where our CHWs refer families in need of care through our participatory quality improvement program. In this role, he keeps an eye on clinical care quality, to ensure that families referred by CHWs are receiving the best care and services available.

This integration ensures that both the standards of care and the health messages that families are receiving are consistent, whether at home from their CHW or in their health center. For example, as we are working to help more families access family planning services, our community health workers are receiving the same training about family planning services that we are offering to providers at our partner community health centers.

CHWs having a discussion
CHWs discuss family planning during a training

Through comprehensive trainings and close collaboration with health centers, our community health worker team is an essential, effective part of the peri-urban community health system. They are at the heart of our efforts to build locally-financed, participatory, equitable health systems that can deliver health for all.