Health

About Our Health Programs

For over 30 years, Ouelessebougou Alliance has worked in partnership with villagers to provide health solutions through sustainable projects. As a long-term partnership developed, the Alliance worked with villagers to expand its health initiatives to create sustainable projects. Each year, health projects are chosen under the direction of the Mali staff to provide relevant and locally vetted programs which improve the quality of life for thousands of villagers.

Current Health Programs

Health Agents and Matrons

Each of our 25 partnering villages has a resident Health Agent, Health Matron and Matron Apprentice. They are the first line of defense against health related issues. They are able to provide sustainable solutions that improve the quality of life for thousands of villagers in the region of Ouelessebougou. As well-respected individuals in their communities, the Health Agent and Matron work with the Village Health Council and villagers to achieve health goals in sanitation, nutrition and disease prevention. 

Health Councils and Plans

To identify the most urgent health needs in each village, Healthy Village Workshops were created in 2005. Village chiefs form Village Health Councils and the Alliance facilitates planning sessions to help villagers identify their goals for a healthier village. The Healthy Village Workshop is a three phase process with villages completing one phase a year. Since these health plans began, incidences of malaria and diarrhea have decreased by significant amounts. Village cleanliness has improved and families are taught the importance of clean water solutions, vaccinations and proper sanitation.

Village families face many health risks and diseases every day. One in five children does not live past his or her fifth birthday because of preventative disease such as dysentery, measles and malaria. Disease prevention is key to enhancing the quality of life. The Alliance works with the villagers to achieve their goals in sanitation and disease prevention. Projects include mosquito netting, immunizations, hand-washing buckets, latrines, drinking wells and access to clean water.

Mosquito Netting

The populations at highest risk for malaria are children under the age of five and adults older than 50. Mosquito nets prove to be the best antidote for malaria prevention so the Alliance subsidizes the cost of the nets by selling them to villagers for $1 USD. Data strongly suggests that families do not have a proper understanding of the causes of malaria, so the Alliance includes health training with every net distributed. A family of four can sleep under one net for up to 3 years—protecting them from Africa’s most life-threatening disease.

This year the Alliance plans to distribute 1,500 mosquito nets, which will protect up to 6,000 people. Our 25 Health Agents will provide training on proper usage of the nets and disease prevention.

Vaccinations

The Alliance has a long-standing relationship with the government of Mali to provide vaccinations in villages in- and -around the Ouelessebougou commune. While the Malian government has the means to provide the vaccinations, they are unable to distribute them to villagers in rural communities. The Alliance provides vaccinations for infants and children under the ages of 5 for the following 9 life-threatening diseases: polio, yellow fever, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, hepatitis A, the flu and tetanus. Expecting mothers are also immunized. Because of our vaccination programs, thousands of lives have been saved. Infant mortality has decreased and children are living with a higher quality of life.

The Alliance’s goal is for 95% of village children ages 0 – 5 to be fully vaccinated. Between October 2018 – May 2019, our vaccination program will reach over 5,500 children and pregnant women in the Ouelessebougou region.

Hand-washing Buckets

Proper sanitation is critical in the prevention of disease especially with children. The Alliance provides hand-washing buckets for each of its 12 partner primary schools. The Education Council and teachers are responsible for maintenance and training the students on usage. These buckets, along with use of the school latrines, have made a significant difference in preventing the spread of disease. Less students are missing school due to illness and are able to enjoy a greater quality of life.

The schools’ handwashing buckets are old and in need of replacing. This year the Alliance will purchase and distribute new buckets to our 12 village schools which will benefit over 2,200 students.

The Alliance partners with Days for Girls International to provide sustainable feminine hygiene solutions and health education to girls and women in Ouelessebougou. The Alliance shares Days for Girls’ goal to “empower every woman and girl to become an Ambassador of Women’s Health in her school, her neighborhood and her community.” The Days for Girls (DfG) project aligns with the Alliance’s health and education initiatives as well as promoting economic development opportunities. In the arena of health, girls and women are able to prevent disease, engage in vital conversations about women’s health and safety, and have access to sustainable feminine hygiene solutions.

The Alliance’s goal is for 95% of village children ages 0 – 5 to be fully vaccinated. Between October 2018 – May 2019, our vaccination program will reach over 5,500 children and pregnant women in the Ouelessebougou region.

Village Distribution & Training

Since 2013, more than 10,000 feminine hygiene kits have been donated by generous supporters and distributed by the Alliance staff in 25 villages. Program Coordinator Teningni Diakete has conducted DfG trainings and educated thousands of women and girls on feminine hygiene, sanitation and women’s health issues. This has been especially beneficial for the 5th and 6th grade girls in our village schools. They not only receive feminine hygiene solutions that allow them to stay in school, but also learn fundamental principles of female health that better prepare them for womanhood.

Days for girls in Ouelessabougou

In November 2017, the Alliance started a Days for Girls enterprise — the first ever in Mali. The Mali staff saw a need to implement a long-term sustainable solution to the growing demand for feminine hygiene solutions which included sourcing DfG kits in Ouelessebougou. At the Alliance’s compound, women work as tailors to sew and sell DfG kits to the community at a subsidized cost. They are also DfG Ambassadors and help the Mali staff provide feminine health education in the Alliance’s 25 villages.

In 2018 – 2019, the Alliance continues to distribute kits and provide training on women’s health education, feminine hygiene and self-defense in 25 rural villages. Additionally, the Days for Girls team at the compound will sew and sell kits and education women and girls throughout the Ouelessebougou community.

OA Women’s Association Garden

In partnership with Feed the World, the Alliance staff works with the Ouelessebougou Alliance Women’s Association garden to provide training and increase productivity. Past projects have included constructing pump wells, fences, a garden shed and installing a solar pump well. Since 2016, over 80 women have received training on efficient gardening and composting practices, increasing crop production and incorporating their garden produce into their family’s diets.

 

School Gardens

The Alliance believes in the importance of primary education to create a healthier generation free from the burdens of malnutrition. Alliance teachers include nutrition training in the curriculum for all 12 villages schools. An essential component is basic practices of proper nutrition including using hand-washing stations, making healthy food choices and learning gardening principles. We know that by teaching the children how to have a well-balanced diet and the means to grow nutritious food, they will grow both mentally and physically stronger with increased opportunities for success.

In 2015, the village of Famana started a school garden. Here students are able to combine their classroom education with hands-on experience in a working garden.

One billion people worldwide lack adequate access to primary healthcare. The situation is especially severe in sub-Saharan Africa where access to affordable health care and medicine is complicated further by geography, extreme poverty and cultural traditions. The Alliance partners with local Utah medical teams to provide services that are either unavailable or too expensive for our village friends. In line with our goal to strengthen the sustainability of our efforts, medical expeditions work with local Malian doctors and medical staff and also involve our village health agents and matrons.

Education Programs

Ouelessebougou Alliance’s top priority is creating sustainable change in the Ouelessebougou region of Mali. Our education programs help make that change possible.

Thanks to our generous donors, in 2018 the Alliance provided 9,845 vaccinations to women and children.