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Community health programmes bring new hope to Senegal

Plan International Senegal's Community Health Project empowers local communities to take charge of their own health in a sustainable manner.

A child is weighed to monitor his growth in Louga.
A child is weighed to monitor his growth in Louga.

Meeting Basic Needs

In Senegal, 80% of the population does not have health coverage. In rural areas especially, access to health services and infrastructure is so sparse that when people need to see a healthcare professional, they must often be transported by horse or donkey cart in very difficult conditions and at great financial cost. For women giving birth or those in need of immediate medical care, this reality can be life threatening. And for those who do manage to arrive at a health facility, the chance that there is a properly trained health worker with an adequate supply of essential drugs is extremely low.

Dahra is one of Senegal’s health districts where despite the presence of 42 health posts, the population still struggles to get access to basic medical supplies and services such as condoms and malnutrition treatment. In this context, the Khogué health unit of the Dahra district in the region of Louga was enlisted as part of Plan International Senegal’s Community Health Project. The project, which is part of an effort to target women, local dignitaries, and resource managers and bring about the self-finance of nutrition-related activities, also aims to provide a wide range of other support functions, including baby delivery, postnantal monitoring, family planning, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sensitisation. 

Locally Sustained Resources

To support the operation of the health post’s activities, 4 local women’s groups have undertaken cultivation of a tree species known as “never die,” or Moringa oleifera.  The tree, nicknamed by some proponents as the “miracle tree,” has highly nutritious leaves that are rich in micronutrients like iron, Vitamin A, potassium, and calcium.  By cultivating, drying, and processing the fast-growing species in a garden with the support of Peace Corps volunteers in the area, the women of Khogué are able to sell the nutritious powder to beneficiaries with children at 17 cents per bag during health post activities such as baby weighing days and cooking demonstrations. 

Through the sale of these bags and other activities, the women are able to support and sustain the resources for the health post. “This new strategy takes place regularly in the village through the community health project. We plan monthly activities that generate revenue and fight against malnutrition, something which was very difficult before the arrival of the project,” explains a member of the health committee. This health committee, under the leadership of Plan International, uses advocacy to self-finance a combination of nutritional activities for children.

Improved Maternal and Child Health

The project has made a measurable contribution to improving the nutritional status of children and women, with a decrease in the rate and number of malnourished children in the community. Perhaps more importantly, a community dynamic of solidarity to support women’s and children’s health issues has been created. “My child no longer suffers from malnutrition thanks to the weekly organisation of nutrition rehabilitation units, fully funded by the community through the sale of Moringa leaves and whose revenues are used to finance the activity,” a local woman attests.

My child no longer suffers from malnutrition thanks to the weekly organisation of nutrition rehabilitation units, fully funded by the community

Alongside these benefits, the Khogué health post has developed partnerships and benefited from several sources of support that have allowed it to set up a pharmaceutical box and storage cabinet, build the infrastructure of the premises, acquire a water source and toilets, develop a vegetable garden, gain access to technology for solar energy, strengthen its equipment, and train community stakeholders, including its community health workers, committee, and relays.  With its new resources underpinned by a dedicated and dynamic community of solidarity mobilised in support of its women and children, a new hope has been born in Khogué.

Plan International Senegal is committed to working with children, communities, and partners such as those in Khogué to ensure a healthy future for all.

Learn more about our work on health in Senegal