Bringing Health to Children’s Doorsteps in Benin

In many rural communities in Benin, children have not received adequate health care because health centers are too far away. Some women can’t go to the health centers because their husbands won’t accompany them. And many people who make it to the health center in an emergency cannot follow up with adequate treatment because resources are scarce in their communities. Since 2009, USAID-funded BASICS Benin, led by MSH, has been decreasing rates for fever, diarrhea, and other illness in these communities through local health workers who treat sick children at home.

The communities of Bassila, in the western region of Benin, have seen a drop in child illness that is directly related to the number of community health workers employed there since September 2010. When Harouna Moubaz’s 15-month-old daughter suffered from chronic fever, she took the child to the nearest health center for care, where she received instructions on how to care for the child. When she returned to her community, however, she could not find enough medication to treat her. The child's health deteriorated further and Harouna turned to Imoura Assouma, a newly trained health worker in the community. With Imoura’s assistance, Harouna was able to give her daughter proper care and resolve her symptoms.

In the communities where BASICS operates, families only have to travel to far-away health clinics when referred there by their local health worker. The program has also helped decrease child illness by effectively encouraging mothers to seek treatment immediately when a child becomes ill. And as household spending on healthcare has declined in many villages, mothers are dedicating more of their money to their children’s education.

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