Bamako Initiative, Stomp Out Malaria, Bug Net Distribution. These are just a few of the buzz-words you should familiarize yourself with if you plan to do health work in West Africa.
When I got to Burkina, the Bamako Initiative (BI) was the big-thing-health-initiative. In short, it had as a goal to define and standardise certain elements of local health systems in order to make them higher functioning facilities. This meant that PCVs coming into the Health sector in Burkina were (amongst other things) learning about that health system and how to empower elements within that system.
As it was explained to us, the bottom of the figure was where we would be working, with the local health center at a village level. There, basic care could be given, but surgery and other care that demands more complex skill-sets and equipment had to be referred to the district, regional, or national level hospitals (CMA, CHR, CHN). Thus our primary work was supporting the work of health center staff and those on the Health Management Committee.
Now, 24+ years out from the BI, Peace Corps in Burkina is working under the assumption that the BI worked OK and things are pretty well taken care of organisationally. Thus a new project plan was studied, proposed, and approved to change the focus of the health program. This project plan took a multi-focus-ed approach, attempting to redirect efforts from infrastructure development back to (five of) the main specific health issues at hand: Malaria, Hygiene, Malnutrition, Vaccinations, and of course HIV/AIDS*.
Basically we’re still barking up the same tree, but since it looks like we’ve changed things up, we look progressive (read better) during program/project reviews, funding, etc. Yay. :)
The Stomp-Out Malaria in Africa initiative was done with the duel intentions of reducing malaria and getting people talking to each other and sharing best practices.
Last April, Stomp Out Malaia ran a concentrated media campaign through the Facebook encouraging activism, information exchange, and the sharing of malaria prevention activites. By 2013 they hope to achieve universal bed-net coverage (paired with universal prevention and treatment education) in all Peace Corps Volunteer communities in Africa**.
In Burkina starting around 2010, a bug-net distribution campaign began that was intended to distribute 1 net per 2 Burkinabe. Here are some of the uses of these nets:
Not everything fails. Each of the above-mentioned initiatives has many shining successes by individuals and groups as well as on the programmatic level.
So here’s to continuing to do the cultural research and providing ground support to well-founded initiatives in order to increase the success quotient. Here’s to hope for a brighter future,
*NB-While information about HIV and AIDS is important to all, AIDS in Africa initiatives have basically guaranteed that HIV/AIDS will remain an educational focus everywhere in Africa for years to come, regardless of the fact that in BF, the prevelance is 1.2% per a UNICEF estimate from 2009 as opposed to ~3.8% prevelance in the US per CDC stats plugged in to the US Census Bureau’s population clock.