Friday, December 7, 2012

Community Management Committees Ensure Improved Access to Healthcare in Rural Guinea

Story and photographs by Julie Dubois, Assistant to the National Coordinator at Tostan Guinea
Our year-end fundraising campaign has begun, and this year, the Greenbaum Foundation will match every gift received, which means your impact will be instantly DOUBLED! As a part of our campaign, we will spotlight different stories from Community Management Committees (CMCs) - democratically selected groups in each community trained in project development and management. CMCs plan and carry out local initiatives, laying the foundation for community-led change and ensuring the sustainability of the Tostan program. Contribute to sustainable development by donating today!
The renovated health center of Koba M'bendia.
Koba M’bendia is a community near Basse, Guinea that began Tostan’s holistic Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in 2005. As an essential part of the three-year program covering human rights, hygiene and health, problem solving, and project management, communities form Community Management Committees (CMCs). CMCs are 17-member leadership bodies designed to organize and carry out awareness-raising events and lead community development projects.

In the community of Koba M’bendia, the CMC succeeded in improving the health of their community by renovating and raising awareness about the local health center. Before the CEP, community members did not frequent the clinic. The health center was seen as the “property of the doctor” and community members considered the nurse a stranger. As soon as someone became sick, they preferred to be treated by the local healer with traditional or folk medicine.

After learning about health and hygiene in the CEP, such as germ transmission and common diseases, participants gained a better understanding of the importance of visiting a trained medical practitioner. Realizing that the clinic was in need of a renovation, CMC members began going door to door in Koba M’bendia and the neighboring village to raise awareness about the center. Thanks to their encouragement and insistence as well as the financial support of the World Bank, the center was renovated in 2008. Residents of Koba M’bendia financed 10 percent of the renovation and finished the project, painting and decorating the clinic. 
CMC members with their children.
The CMC is now part of the Health Center Management Committee, which is in charge of awareness-raising activities. Women now give birth at the health center, children receive regular vaccinations, and community members consult the nurse for health concerns. Already, there is a visible decline in both minor and fatal illnesses because of the community’s increased awareness and access to the renovated health center.

The success of the health center of Koba M’bendia has drawn patients from nine neighboring villages, showing both its success but also a greater need for more health posts in rural Guinea.  Unfortunately, the clinic cannot support everyone at its current capacity, but the CMC of Koba M’bendia uses social mobilization activities, such as inter-village meetings, to encourage other communities to invest in the creation of their own health centers.

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Blog adapted by Salim Drame