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Improving community health in Niger

Ciara Hogan | 26 March 2018 | 0 Comments

With support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Concern is working hand in hand with communities in rural Niger to improve health, nutrition and sanitation. Learn how community health volunteers, Mika and Abdoussalam, are helping to educate their neighbours and bring about lasting change.

Mika Moutari shares what being a community volunteer means to him. Photo: Ciara Hogan/Concern Worldwide.

Meet Mika Moutari

Mika Moutari lives just outside the village of Affala, Tahoua Department, Niger. He is an interesting man with many stories to tell. Three years ago he was identified by Concern as a community health volunteer to help disseminate essential advice about health and sanitation practices.

Mika is now responsible for teaching households about the importance of good hygiene, infant feeding practices and encouraging mothers to bring their children for vaccinations and malnutrition screenings.

Community Health Volunteers congregate in Affala village, Niger. Photo: Ciara Hogan/Concern Worldwide.

Mika says he’s proud of his work and describes it as his contribution to the community. He details how – with the support of DG ECHO and Concern – his community is now aware of the importance of breast feeding and to bring their children for vaccinations to safeguard their health.

Lasting change and improvements

Affala village has many community volunteers like Mika providing essential health services.  Impressively, community health volunteers in Tahoua Department, Tahoua region have managed to reach over 100,000 children and saved countless lives. There’s no doubt that these volunteers are essential and their commitment brings about lasting change.

Abdoussalam Aboubacar sits behind his desk, ready to assess the scores of children who have arrived at the health centre for their vaccinations. Photo: Ciara Hogan/Concern Worldwide.

Meet Abdoussalam Aboubacou

Abdoussalam Aboubacou is the Head of the Health Centre in Taza village, Tahoua Department, Niger. His duties include taking care of the sick, referring patients with severe illnesses to central services and managing the inventories. Abdoussalam also meets with the local community health volunteers on a monthly basis to provide training and get their feedback.

Pride and passion

It’s clear that Abdoussalam is passionate about his work and proud of the essential health services that he is helping to provide. He notes that supply of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) has been uninterrupted since his arrival, helping to ensure that vulnerable children receive the nutritional support they need.

Mama Lumiere community health worker group in Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Jennifer Nolan/Concern Worldwide.

Behaviour change

Abdoussalam also emphasises the importance of behaviour change activities in improving community health. He states that there has been an increase in women attending health centres to give birth thanks to the advice provided by the community health volunteers – a marker of progress for Abdoussalam, the community health volunteers and indeed the community they serve.

Volunteers driving change

The work of Concern would not be possible without committed people like Mika and Abdoussalam. They bring essential advice, skills and services to the most vulnerable and remote people and it is clear that they are driving change.

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