Community-Based Activities to Improve Child Survival in Benin

By Paula Agebemavo, Public Relations Coordinator, PSI affiliate ABMS (Association Beninoise pour le Marketing Social)

Out of every 1,000 live births in Benin, 68 infants die before age 1, and 125 infants die before reaching the age of 5 (EDS 2006). Around 70% of infant deaths, due to diarrhea, pneumonia, or malaria, occur in households or within local communities. This is due mainly in part to a lack of access to health centers and/or the preference of the population to use medicinal plants for treatment, as opposed to modern care. To reinforce its interventions in child survival, the IMPACT/USAID project, in collaboration with the Mother and Child Unit of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and AFRICARE, financed three training sessions from April 2nd through May 5th 2012. These sessions reached out to 142 community workers from 71 villages in one of Benin’s most critical health zones. The training included discussions and material on malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea treatment, preventive inoculation, promotion of essential family health practices, pregnancy and delivery, and baby monitoring.

Furthermore, the project reinforced the capacity of 79 health professionals and 46 health assistants in an effort to increase the skills and knowledge of community workers on the implementation of the community-based activities as related to child survival. In the Avrankou-Akpro-Missérété health zone, only 42 out of around 100 villages benefited from malaria and diarrhea treatment. Following the training, an integrated management for infant diseases was launched on June 6th throughout all the villages during which equipment and medicines for treatment of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, fever, and cough were distributed by UNICEF. This intervention was an important step in the progression of one of the greatest challenges for the Ministry of Health, which is to increase, among other interventions, the integrated management of infant diseases at a national level.