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pour Action contre la Faim

Témoignages

#WomenAgainstHunger 

Hawa : Mali’s hero

Action Against Hunger are changing this, with an innovative and life-saving approach involving community health workers. Action Against Hunger train community health workers to diagnose and treat malnourished children within the villages that they live. This means that malnutrition is spotted sooner and parents don’t have to walk up to 40km to the nearest clinic every week for treatment.

"I could do another job but not like this. Why would I want to? I love this so much."
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Hawa
Community Health Worker, Mali

30 year old Hawa Coulibaly is an Action Against Hunger trained community health worker, living and working in the remote village of Kourougue in rural Mali. Hawa lives in the village with her 3 children and from their home, she operates a clinic from which she diagnoses and treats malnourished children.

 

Recently, Hawa was walking through her village when she noticed 2-year-old Simbo was underweight and lethargic. Spotting the signs, she asked Simbo’s mother to bring him to her clinic. She diagnosed Simbo with Severe Acute Malnutrition, using a mid-upper arm circumference tape (MUAC) and prescribed him a course of ready to use therapeutic food for 4 weeks. With Hawa’s support, Simbo’s Mum was able to treat Simbo at her home.

Similarly, 2 year-old Fatumata’s condition was recently spotted, diagnosed and treated by Hawa, without the need for the little girl to travel the long distance to their nearest health centre. This is in stark contrast to Fatumata’s eldest brother Musa, who almost died from Severe Acute Malnutrition before Hawa came to Kourougue village. With no knowledge of what to do, as her son grew weaker, their mother Many, used traditional medicine and bathed him in a mixture of water, leaves and bark from the local tereninfu tree. With her son’s condition worsening, Many eventually borrowed money to get a motorbike taxi to an Action Against Hunger funded in-patient facility in Kita. This was both expensive and time consuming for the family, but also could have been prevented with the right support. “Before Hawa, we were living in darkness”, says Many, “since she has come here, children are healthier and mothers are happier.”

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Education and awareness of malnutrition are low in rural Mali and before Hawa’s arrival, many villagers like Many didn’t know how to prevent a child getting sick or how to recognise the signs of malnutrition. Malnutrition was often thought of as a sign of the devil and out of desperation, many families would turn to ineffective traditional remedies. Part of Hawa’s role is to talk to the parents about ways of preventing malnutrition. “We talk about family planning, malaria and other diseases, hygiene and the importance of vaccinations. Before I came here there was not much knowledge about health or nutrition,” says Hawa.

This ground-breaking project is increasing the proportion of malnourished children treated, by transforming access to treatment through community health workers, like Hawa. This is because community health workers can reach a far higher number of children in a much more cost effective way, and give the same quality of care as a health facility.

“Since Hawa has been in the village, I’ve noticed a change” says Simbo’s Mum Mamissa, “there were a lot of sick children before, but now there are few”.

#WomenAgainstHunger 

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