by Quentin Wodon
The first two posts in this series documented how Muso’s community health workers pilot in Mali helped reduce child mortality and the factors that made it feasible for the Malian Ministry of Health to adopt the model nationally. The relevance of the community health worker model for Ebola was also briefly discussed. This last post explains how Rotary supported Muso and, more importantly right now, how Rotarians and others can help those affected by the Ebola epidemic.
Two Grants for Muso
While Rotary has not been the only supporter of the Muso pilot, it has played an important role in funding it. Rotary has supported Muso through two so-called global grants thanks to Maria Nelly Pavisich from the Rotary Club of Washington, DC and other Rotarians from many clubs. A first grant of $60,000 was approved when Maria Nelly was with the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. The focus of that grant was on malaria prevention and treatment. The funds were used to buy high quality insecticide bed nets, and provide diagnosis and treatment for more than 3,500 patients. During the course of this first grant, Muso grew tenfold. With new partnerships among others with the Against Malaria Foundation and CHF Muso achieved universal coverage of its interventions in Yirimadjo.
In March 2014 the Rotary Foundation awarded Muso an additional $151,500 grant to expand its work. The new initiative is called Thrive for Five: Improving Child Health and Survival in Mali. It will benefit 13,500 children over two years. Putting the grant together was not easy, because the Rotary Foundation requires clubs and districts to contribute before matching those contributions. As Maria Nelly explained: “We had to create a global coalition of more than 50 Rotarians from Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia. We all worked together to raise funds and provide expertise. Eight clubs and seven Districts agreed to contribute. It took hundreds of emails, multiple reports, conversations, and presentations to get there. You’ve got to have a firm commitment to reach the goal! I guess it is the humanitarian adrenaline that keeps me going.”
The donations for the $151,500 grant by clubs as well as the district (DDF) and Rotary Foundation (TRF) matching funds are visualized in the Figure below. So far, for the two global grants as well as in other ways, a total of 15 Rotary Clubs in 11 Districts, seven countries, and four continents have supported Muso. While putting these grants together was substantial work, it was all worth it according to Maria Nelly: “When you reach the goal, it feels so good! It is extremely motivating to do this work with a reputable, focused and reliable organization such as Muso. And to hear Yirimadjo survival stories from community health workers… Muso does the hard work on the ground, but as Rotarians we contribute as we can, in this case with funding.”
Today, many Rotarians and others are asking how they can help those affected by the Ebola epidemic, especially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Funding by individuals and clubs may seem small in comparison to contributions by organizations such as the World Bank ($500 million) or the United States Government (e.g., building hospitals). But while small, these contributions still make a major difference in the life of those who benefit from them.
Many Rotary districts are trying to raise funds. In my district (D-7620), the Disaster Relief Committee will fund personal protection equipment for 18 hospitals and health centers in Liberia in partnership with IMA World Health and the Christian Health Association of Liberia. The fundraising is coordinated by Disaster Aid USA and the Rotary Club of Bonds Meadow Foundation. Beyond support right away, given that the needs for assistance in Ebola-affected countries will be there for quite some time, clubs and districts could also consider global grants, as was done for Muso in Mali. These grants take a bit of time to prepare, but they can be quite powerful.
Rotarians in affected countries are also engaged, as are many other citizens. For example, the Rotary Club of Monrovia in Liberia has established an Ebola Response Committee. The club initially purchased locally a wide range of items including examination and other gloves, mattresses for patients in treatment facilities, infra-red thermometers, boots for health care workers, and so on. The club also carried out awareness campaigns with the Liberian Nurses Association, and it is has been supporting reintegration of patients into the community. With the Ministry of Health and the NGO ChildFund, it launched the first Interim Care Center for children whose parents were in isolation in treatment centers or had been orphaned by Ebola. Right now, the Monrovia Rotary Club is raising funds to attend to the urgent needs of Ebola victims, their families, and caregivers.
When members of our club spoke to members of the Monrovia club, more than three dozen clubs worldwide had already contacted the Monrovia club to provide assistance. But much more is needed. If you, as a Rotarian or otherwise, can support those responding to the Ebola crisis on the ground in the affected countries, please do.