December 2019

{Girls carry water to their homes in Mopti region, Mali. Photo credit: Debbo Alafia consortium/MSH}Girls carry water to their homes in Mopti region, Mali. Photo credit: Debbo Alafia consortium/MSH

In recent years, and following the coup in 2012, Mali has experienced increased political unrest and violence, especially in the country’s north and central regions. Coupled with droughts and flooding, the situation has resulted in a significant increase in forced internal migration. In the Mopti region, many health centers have closed, and health providers have fled to safer urban areas as a result.  

Such instability has had dire consequences for the health of rural communities there. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable due to power imbalances within the family, limited access to resources, and increased vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Sexual violence remains underreported due to insecurity and the stigmatization of survivors, making it more difficult to ensure care and services effectively reach those who experience such violence.

{Participants during one of the trainings on the integrated support model for GBV survivors. Photo credit: Raphael Gnonlonfoun/IHSA}Participants during one of the trainings on the integrated support model for GBV survivors. Photo credit: Raphael Gnonlonfoun/IHSA

Meet Dr. Omer Adjibode, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Advisor for the USAID-funded Integrated Health Services Activity (IHSA) in Benin. The purpose ofIHSA is to strengthen local capacity for the delivery of high-impact malaria, family planning, maternal and child health (MCH), and GBV services with strong citizen engagement to reduce maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent girls’ mortality and morbidity.

In his role, Omer is responsible for defining strategies to improve care for GBV survivors. In this issue of Leading Voices, he talks about the virtual One Stop GBV center, an innovative resource for GBV survivors in Benin. According to national legislation in Benin, “GBV includes physical, moral, sexual or psychological violence, female genital mutilation, forced or arranged marriages, "honour" crimes and other practices harmful to women.”

Can you tell us more about how GBV is addressed in Benin? What are the key components of successful strategies or, on the contrary, some areas for improvement?

Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

This article was originally published in NextBillion.

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It could be a piece of software that provides faster access to blood supplies in Cameroon, an m-health platform that links virtual health coaches to people facing chronic illness in Nigeria, or an app that lets people use points to buy and exchange health products in Senegal, helping them save for out-of-pocket expenses. Or it might be a primary care service that reaches underserved people in India via telemedicine, or a microscope app that can diagnose breast and cervical cancers in remote areas in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 400,000 women die each year because they cannot access screening services.