Saving the Lives of Mothers and Protecting Their Children

ChildFund’s successful health huts and community health worker training in Senegal are featured in a film produced by the Stories of Mothers Saved project.

Organized jointly by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and the United Nations Population Fund, the film project honors women who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth due to a key action taken by her, her family, the community, a health worker or others.

ChildFund’s story of Maïmouna, a mother with a high-risk pregnancy, is just one example of how local access to quality medical care saves lives in remote, impoverished areas.

Thanks to the community mobilization, training and supervision efforts of the USAID-funded and ChildFund International-led Community Health Project (Programme Santé, Santé Communautaire), Maïmouna had easy access to a community health hut run by volunteer community health agents. The project works hand-in-hand with the health districts in Senegal, such as the Health District of Popenguine.

Maïmouna’s story highlights the importance of a community structure that stands by women and their families before, during and after pregnancy to help them understand reproductive health, danger signs and how to take action.

ChildFund also works to forge links between the community and government-run clinical structures. In this case, it was a community health worker, who was the critical link in the system that ensured continuity in Maïmouna’s care and treatment from the community level up through the clinical levels.

Watch the film and discover just how many more lives can be saved.

ChildFund Welcomes Renewed Focus on Maternal Child Health

by Julia White, ChildFund Business Development Specialist

For organizations like ChildFund International that have been working on the ground in maternal and child health (MCH) for decades, the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, D.C., last week was an inspirational recharge.

Government agencies, dignitaries, NGOs, private-sector foundations, advocates and experts in the field came together with both the political will and the monetary backing needed to reset MCH as a top global priority. We heard from numerous leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the heads of UNFPA, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Chile’s former president Michelle Bachelet and Melinda Gates, just to name a few.

At the conference, Melinda Gates announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $1.5 billion in MCH, family planning and nutrition programs over the next five years, which will complement work already being done in malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS prevention.

The new grants under the Gates Foundation will include a focus on integration — training frontline health workers to provide multiple services and emphasizing cost-effective safe motherhood and newborn health practices. Both are areas of expertise for ChildFund, aligning with our strategic focus on children’s life stages and healthy development.

Maïmouna Faye with her husband and child.

In fact, our work with MCH in Senegal was featured at the conference in the Stories of Mothers Saved, a campaign organized jointly by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and the United Nations Population Fund. The story of Maïmouna Faye, a mother with a high-risk pregnancy, is just one example of how we forge relationships with communities.

Maïmouna’s life was saved thanks to the community mobilization, training and supervision efforts of the USAID-funded and ChildFund-led Community Health Project (Programme Santé Santé Communautaire) and a well-trained community health worker trained under the PSSC. In Senegal ChildFund works with communities to run more than 1,370 community health care units, or health huts, nationwide.

In Honduras ChildFund has implemented community health units called UCOS (Unidades Comunitarias de Salud), which support community-based maternal, neonatal and child health care, through improved access to high-quality and cost-effective care. We’ve also trained more than 200 community volunteers in the integrated management of childhood illnesses.

Speakers at the Women Deliver Conference repeatedly referenced the U.S. government’s six-year $63 billion Global Health Initiative and its renewed focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs that address infectious disease, nutrition, MCH and safe water. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest U.S.-funded bilateral health assistance program, will serve as the cornerstone of the Global Health Initiative.

ChildFund has been a proud partner of PEPFAR in Ethiopia and Zambia, focusing on vulnerable children whose loss of their primary social structure increases their vulnerability to hunger, malnutrition, abuse and exploitation.

It is heartening to see a renewed international convergence of support for maternal and child health that reflects ChildFund’s long-term commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for children in every stage of their lives.

In my work with ChildFund, I’ve seen firsthand the power of supporting communities, local organizations and women themselves to ensure that mothers are safe and healthy before, during and after the birth of their babies. That support leads to the continued growth of their children into empowered adults.

Because ChildFund believes that the well-being of children leads to the well-being of the world — and that starts with healthy mothers — we’re excited to be a part of the global call to action for mothers and children.

On World Malaria Day: Education, Prevention and Treatment

If malaria is preventable, why does this disease remain a major killer of children under age five?

To answer that troublesome question, ChildFund has formed collaborative partnerships within the international community. In Senegal, we lead a consortium of organizations (Africare, Catholic Relief Services, Counterpart International, Plan and World Vision) in the implementation of a malaria-focused USAID-funded Community Health Project.

A health hut in Senegal.

This program uses community-based maternal and child health services to prevent and treat malaria cases. Although this effort involves significant distribution of medicine, it also offers disease-prevention education through ChildFund’s “Health Huts” program.

Established networks of community volunteers support more than 1,300 health huts. As a result, malaria-prevention programs have now reached more than 4 million people, including nearly 800,000 children under age five.

At a concert attended by 15,000 last fall, Youssou N'Dour urges action in the fight against malaria. Photo: (c) Catherine Karnow/Malaria No More

To reach an even larger audience, ChildFund Senegal is partnering with Senegalese Grammy-winning singer Youssou N’Dour, who has established the Youssou N’Dour Foundation aimed at combating malaria. N’Dour, a leading advocate for the U.S.-based nonprofit Malaria No More, has written a song titled, “Xeex Sibbiru,” which means “fight malaria.” The popular song has become the centerpiece of a “360-degree” education and advocacy campaign that is now sweeping Senegal.

ChildFund Senegal staff and its partners are incorporating the song into malaria education sessions to build awareness of disease prevention. As a result, children are organizing distribution of mosquito nets and initiating community cleanup campaigns to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.

Fighting Malaria in Senegal with Creativity

By Julia White
Grants-M&E Manager, ChildFund Senegal

I step onto the stage and see in front of me through the bright lights, a sea of thousands of screaming Senegalese fans. Youssou Ndour, the famous Senegalese, Grammy-winning singer and activist stands in front of me as his fans try to get his attention. His voice is full of passion as he talks to the crowd, urging every single one of them, rich and poor, young and old, to stand-up against malaria.


More than 15,000 fans attend the Xeex Sibbiru (Fight Malaria) concert. (Photo: (c) Catherine Karnow/Malaria No More)

I stand among several key partners who have been asked to go on stage at this concert in Guediwaye, Senegal, to be recognized for their collaboration with Malaria No More and the Fondation Youssou Ndour in making the first step of the Surround Sound: Senegal campaign a reality. I feel very proud to work for ChildFund Senegal as I hear Youssou Ndour call out our name and personally thank us.

The idea behind Surround Sound: Senegal is to mix multiple communication channels with the best local marketers from the worlds of entertainment, sport, faith and business to create a 360-degree malaria education and advocacy campaign in Senegal that reaches everyone at every level. The first step of the campaign has been the use of Senegal fan-favorite Youssou Ndour to develop a song promoting malaria prevention.

The song is called Xeex Sibbiru, which in English means “fight malaria.” The song challenges Senegalese to see the impact malaria has on all aspects of their lives and to see that they need to choose to take action and take responsibility to prevent malaria in their families and their communities.

ChildFund Senegal and Malaria No More share the objective of promoting malaria prevention in Senegal. ChildFund Senegal leads a consortium of NGOs (ChildFund Senegal, Africare, Catholic Relief Services, Counterpart International, Plan and World Vision) in the implementation of the USAID-funded Community Health Project.


Youssou Ndour thanks the partners involved in the malaria-prevention campaign. (Photo (c) Catherine Karnow/Malaria No More)

The project includes two components: an integrated package of community-based maternal and child health services, and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) community malaria component. Both components are community-based prevention and treatment efforts that involve significant mass-distribution of drugs and information/education/communication via community Health Huts. The PMI component is implemented in more than 1,370 health huts and covers an estimated 4 million people, including children under age 5 and pregnant women.

Through this USAID-funded Project, ChildFund Senegal and the consortium of NGOs distributed the song at the community level in 13 out of the 14 regions of Senegal and now continue to conduct awareness-raising sessions in conjunction with the song. Different target groups, such as grandmothers, heads-of-households, mothers, children and community leaders, are organized to listen to the song and either discuss it or create their own songs, skits or stories related to what they heard.

This approach ensures that all the different decision-makers and target groups at the community level are getting the same messages and are processing the information in a way that is meaningful to them. The song was also distributed at the community level via community radio and continues to be aired.

A group of grandmotherss listen to the song via cassette tape as part of the community-mobilization effort.

A group of grandmothers listen to the "Xeex Sibbiru" (fight malaria) song on cassette as part of the community-mobilization effort. (Photo (c) Catherine Karnow/Malaria No More)

In the program region of Mbour alone, the community activities, not including the local radio, have already been able to reach 18,339 with the song and its powerful malaria-prevention message.

ChildFund Senegal and the consortium are helping to ensure the bottom-up coverage of the Surround Sound: Senegal campaign. Malaria No More and the Fondation Youssou NDour are ensuring the top-down coverage with mass media such as the launch concert, and national and regional radio diffusion. The different local marketers from sports, entertainment, business and religion that join the campaign will ensure the side coverage.

Having been involved in malaria prevention in Senegal since 1998, ChildFund Senegal is interested to see the impact this 360 degree approach will have and is hopeful that this is just the push Senegal needs to take malaria prevention to the next level.

For more information about our work in Senegal, click here.31 in 31

More on Senegal
Population: 12.5 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 4.6 million children and families
Did You Know?: About 75% of Senegal’s population lives in rural areas. All Senegalese speak an indigenous language, of which Wolof has the largest usage.

What’s next: An update from Angola

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,090 other subscribers

Follow me on Twitter