The Mosquito and the Millions

What does a single mosquito inside a house in Burkina Faso have to do with a regional economic community of over 100 million people? For the countries of West Africa, this is an increasingly important question. In Mali, the government's program of insecticide-treated bed nets is bringing down the number of incidences of malaria in children. Although the technology for treating bed nets is available in Burkina Faso, the program hasn't been as successful there. Management Sciences for Health's (MSH) USAID-funded Action in the West African Region (AWARE) project is working with regional organizations and networks to identify and transfer knowledge and practice that works well in one country to neighboring countries facing similar challenges. Studying what Mali does right in its bed net program can benefit Burkina's program, helping to neutralize the impact of a single mosquito. Closing the information gap by disseminating promising practices between states has the potential to invigorate a dynamic group of regional organizations.

As part of the AWARE Project, MSH works in 18 countries in the region and with West African regional health institutions to improve access to quality health services, while creating a regional response to child and reproductive health challenges. While "it takes a village" to raise a child, it takes a region to protect people against the effects of rapid urbanization, transnational pandemics and population growth. Bridging the gap between the mosquito and the millions is essential to West Africa's future. AWARE is a vital link in that bridge.

AWARE is strengthening already-existing regional health organizations and networks to better transfer and adapt proven and appropriate technologies and skills that have already worked in some parts of the region. By supporting regional organizations with capacity building activities, replication and demonstration of "good and promising" practices, advocacy training, skills marketing planning and development to reinforce links between regional institutions and national health programs, AWARE maximizes resources and contributes to a holistic development strategy.

MSH contributions to the program include:

  • Disseminating "good and promising" practices in child health and infectious disease.
  • Institutional capacity development for regional organizations.
  • Reproductive health commodity planning for regional governments and organizations.

Although the AWARE project is less than a year old, MSH has already identified 34 regional organizations and networks and begun capacity building to strengthen their skills in management and leadership. AWARE has also completed reproductive health commodity planning for Togo and Cameroon. By improving institutional effectiveness, the AWARE project is helping local institutions respond to child and reproductive health challenges throughout the region.

MSH is a subcontractor responsible for the child survival, institutional capacity and regional commodity planning elements of the AWARE project. MSH is partnering with Engender Health, Abt Associates, and AED on the AWARE project.