From Bamako to Dakar: FOHSEN Collaborates with MUSO’s Community Health Magic

Imagine wanting to have a positive impact on your community, risking everything. That might seem foreign to most, but is the reality of community health workers (CHWs) in Senegal. Take for instance the story of a newly recruited CHW  Bator Seck. She is committed to her work even in the face of her husband being against her ambitions. Without her husband’s approval, Bator is limited in her role. With that understanding, CHW supervisor Papa Badara took on the role of advocating for her. He paid a visit to her husband and discussed his concerns and exchange on best steps forward. During the course of the conversation, he convinced and reassured Bator’s husband about the contribution and impact of her work. A silent hero in community health is a humble individual who dedicates their efforts to keeping the community healthy without seeking praise. They quietly utilize their abilities and time to address health issues, promote well-being, and aid those in need. Each day they serve their community in ways that only few will see. Recently, FOHSEN embarked on a fascinating journey to Mali, eager to learn from Muso, a pioneering organization in the CHW world.

Imagine stepping into Muso’s world: CHWs with empathy for the communities– handpicked and armed with knowledge and tools to address communities’ health needs. Muso provides a comprehensive training program for CHWs to learn how to address community healthcare needs. Think healthcare superhero bootcamp–the program handpicks the workers from their respective communities and equips them to tackle everything from malaria to malnutrition. Their work centers around home visits and a constantly developing referral system. But it’s not just about skills, it’s about trust. Their CHWs are recruited within the Community itself, ensuring they possess an intimate knowledge of the Community’s culture, traditions, and unique obstacles. They speak the local language, understand the cultural nuances, and become vital links between families and health centers. 

The program is based on three types of visits: one with the CHW, one with the CHW and their supervisor, and one with just the supervisor. The visits involve providing  basic curative  services to patients, while offering feedback, guidance and community-based skills to health workers. For the CHW visits at home, their role includes treatment, Sensitization and awareness, referrals, promoting health seeking behavior, and offering family planning services. For the supervisor’s visit with the CHW, the supervisor observes how the  worker conducts a home visit and provides feedback immediately after the visit. For the supervisor’s visit without the health worker, this is an opportunity for supervisors to understand the relationship between the community and the health worker, and also serves as a quality assurance measure to ensure no patient is left behind. 

In collaboration with Muso, FOHSEN visited Bamako with health workers and regional authorities to learn more about what makes the program so unique. Through meetings and presentations of topics ranging from communicable diseases to evidence-based interventions, the team got a better understanding of the program. Now, as we return, the team is working to develop a robust mobile health platform that tracks everything from patient visits to vaccinations, providing a bird’s-eye view of the program’s impact. This data-driven approach will help us identify areas for improvement, ensuring their interventions stay laser-focused on community needs.

FOHSEN’s collaboration with MUSO is an insightful one that will progress FOHSEN’s work in a positive direction. A tool that sets MUSO apart from other CHW programs is their emphasis on using data to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Supervisors provide regular performance management support through Muso’s 360º supervision model. This approach is similar to one that FOHSEN is developing through its digital application. This tool will streamline data that facilitates technical adjustments to on the ground work done by CHWs. FOHSEN, has been inspired by Muso’s magic, and is working closely with the District Health officials and local authorities to implement the Rapid Care Model in the Kaffrine Region based on the most pressing needs of the local community. The collaboration was not just informational, but inspirational. The takeaways are not just about the tools and processes used by MUSO. 

So, the next time you hear about healthcare heroes in Africa, remember the unsung heroes that are the  silent CHWs, weaving their magic in remote villages. And remember, their impact ripples far and wide, thanks to organizations like FOHSEN and Muso, learning from each other, sharing their magic, and ultimately, transforming healthcare for the most rural communities around the continent. The work done by these health care heroes are made possible by the time, money, and efforts of concerned global citizens. Whether it is through donations, advocacy, or volunteering, you too can have an impact on the work our heroes are doing! 

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