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Impact

Fostering Local Innovation to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Senegal

The USAID Owod project is helping Senegal increase local capacity and innovation to strengthen its health system and services for women and children

Objective

USAID Owod strengthens Senegal’s capacity and commitment at the district and regional levels to sustainably provide universal health coverage for all Senegalese and improve maternal and child health outcomes.

Approach

USAID Owod provides support and grants that foster local solutions, innovations, and capacity to strengthen Senegal’s health system, improve access to quality maternal and child health care, and increase community engagement in oversight and management of health services.

Impact

The project will help targeted regions address health issues and build the capacity they need to secure greater resources for maternal and child health, manage health systems effectively, and increase accountability for improved health outcomes. This will support the goal of at least three of the five regions transitioning toward receiving direct government-to-government assistance.

Senegal has made significant gains in improving public health over the past few decades. However, its decentralized, complex health system requires capacity strengthening to ensure the provision of equitable health services, particularly in maternal and child health care.

Health indicators in these five particularly difficult regions show uneven performance and high prevalence of challenges like malaria in children. Just three of these regions account for 87% of malaria cases in the country. Maternal, child, and newborn health requires deeper support, action, and community engagement to improve health outcomes.

Improving maternal and child health through the USAID Owod project

The USAID Owod (“Being Healthy”) project is helping Senegal build capacity and commitment at local levels to address these challenges and improve integrated health services for women and children. The project targets activities in the regions with the most need, including Diourbel, Kédougou, Kolda, Sédhiou, and Tambacounda, with a focus on connecting more youth, women, and other vulnerable groups to quality care.

USAID Owod addresses the drivers of death and illness among mothers and their young children by improving delivery and integration of malaria, reproductive health, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the Senegalese health system. A focus on health systems strengthening ensures Senegal can sustain the improvements it makes – and build upon them – for years to come.

Improving integrated services for maternal and child health

USAID Owod partners with local actors in Senegal to provide health services focused on addressing the major causes of maternal and child death and disease. This includes an array of support, such as:

  • Strengthening the ability of health providers and community health workers to better deliver client-centered care.
  • Supporting regional and district health teams and head nurses in conducting routine supportive supervision of health facilities to monitor their performance, identify and resolve issues, and proactively improve the quality of services.
  • Gathering health workers to review and analyze progress data, determine high-priority needs, and identify solutions to fill gaps.
  • Bolstering community engagement through integrated community watch and alert committees that encourage people to regularly attend health appointments during pregnancy.
  • Helping districts conduct preventive treatment campaigns for malaria and raise awareness about malaria prevention and other health topics like nutrition, COVID-19, and WASH.
  • Providing training on family planning, gender and social inclusion, and environmental issues to ensure cross-cutting issues are considered and integrated.
  • Improving tracking and management of public and private health providers to improve the quality of the care they provide.
  • Increasing access to care for those hardest to reach through integrated, advanced strategies.
  • Regularly involving more community members in developing health solutions and building more accountability into health systems for quality care.

Strengthening malaria prevention and treatment during pregnancy and beyond

One example of this integrated approach in action is USAID Owod’s support for malaria prevention and treatment, which builds on previous U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) investments in the country. In promoting regular attendance of health visits during pregnancy, the project creates more opportunities for people to receive effective and safe malaria-in-pregnancy treatments. In areas that lack health workers and/or referral networks, the project consults with community members and leaders to identify gaps in malaria services and collaboratively design solutions.

The project also helps Senegal train its community health workers and provider staff on how to effectively prevent and treat malaria – such as promoting the use of bed nets and early care seeking – as well as promote good nutrition and WASH practices for women and young children.

Fostering local capacity and solutions for maternal and child health in Senegal 

USAID Owod leverages a holistic, systems-strengthening approach that includes bridging the gap between health and non-health decision-makers through improved data for decision-making, human-centered design, public-private coordination, and research to evolve small ideas into scalable solutions that save lives.

A dual-purpose grants program administered by the project helps districts turn government plans into action while also incentivizing development of local innovations that address entrenched challenges. Regional and community stakeholders benefit from learning groups that foster peer-to-peer connections, exchange, and innovation across individuals, institutions, and levels. Citizen groups and avenues for engagement – such as client feedback and forums – improve accountability and responsiveness of local health budgets and services.

By strengthening the connections among these groups, improving the capacity of districts to implement health plans, and fostering locally led solutions, USAID Owod helps these regions and their health systems build the coordination, structures, and expertise they need to provide quality maternal and child health care, respond to emerging needs, and continuously improve care in the future.

In its first year, the project helped 25 partner medical regions and health districts finalize their action plans for improving health services and secure initial funding for implementation support. With the project’s technical support, these units also updated their plans for COVID-19 recovery and re-launched vaccination efforts, leading to 20% of those aged 18 or older receiving at least their 1st dose in the USAID Owod intervention regions.

The project is also helping Senegal establish a strong and trusted referral network for health services to strengthen the continuum of care across public and private entities. In doing so, USAID Owod helps the country broaden its approach from reactive care focused on curing health issues to also emphasize preventive care and health education that reduces and prevents health issues.

Learn more about RTI’s work in maternal and child health and health systems strengthening.