What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?
By the time that we launched the Community-Based Malaria Program in 2008, Project Muso had been working in the community of Yirimadjo for three years, and had seen great success. Our first initiative trained a Community Action Committee, an advocacy group that has spearheaded initiatives to improve community infrastructure. We then launched our Women’s Education Program, which taught essential health skills to 247 women who previously had little or no access to formal education. Upon completion of the course, these women were able to start or expand their own small businesses through our Springboard Microfinance Program. These loans allowed women to develop small enterprises, and to exercise personal agency. However, the women also expressed that if they and their families were not healthy, the skills they had and the money they earned were not enough. Several mothers in our education and microfinance program died due to lack of health care. Other mothers dropped out of the education program because they or their children were sick and without access to care. Others used their loan capital to pay for health care for themselves or their children.
We were also aware that the problem wasn’t that the community didn’t want to access health care, it was that there were barriers to care preventing them from seeking care at the local clinic. In a community with major food security issues that lacks paved roads, electricity, and a sanitation system, many people simply can’t afford care. Community members face the direct costs of health care services, as all care in Mali is fee for service, plus indirect costs such as transportation and lost work time. Furthermore, many of Mali’s medical facilities are overcrowded or inadequately equipped which undercuts community members’ confidence in the health care system.
Project Muso witnessed each of these barriers to care in Yirimadjo, and heard its participants and other community members say that their most pressing need was access to health care. In a country where 22,000 people die from malaria each year and 1 in 15 women die from pregnancy complications, we could not continue our other programs and ignore the fact that our participants and their friends and family members were dying each day from preventable causes.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
In 2005, a team of Malian and American medical professionals, educators, and social entrepreneurs founded Project Muso Ladamunen. Project Muso aims to solve health crises at their roots, by addressing and transforming the violent conditions of poverty and gender inequality that cause disease. To do this, Project Muso integrates health care delivery with microfinance, community organizing, and participatory education programs. This integrated model aims to stop the deadly, mutually reinforcing cycle of poverty and disease, and replace it with a healing cycle of women’s empowerment, community mobilization, microenterprise, and health care access.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Through another organization or company
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company