Building Resilient Health Systems Around the World

Of all the times you have visited a health facility, have you ever been told there weren’t enough resources to provide you with the care you so desperately needed? On International Universal Health Coverage Day, we reflect on #HealthforAll and just how far our work must travel to achieve it. We think about how, not even a decade ago, many of us might never have imagined the scenario described above possible. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, this became a familiar reality around the world. Sadly, in low-income countries, health resources have always been dangerously scarce. COVID-19 crippled these health systems further.

In remote communities of South Sudan, hospitals are far and few between, and so often lack the medicines, supplies, and healthcare workers to save lives effectively. These are among the reasons why community health workers have become an essential part of CMMB’s work to strengthen health systems.

Bridging the Gap: Boma Health Workers Save Lives

A Boma health worker reviews papers while on a home visit 2023 April.

Riding his bike in and around Western Equatoria’s Mvolo County, Thomas carries out an important mission. As a community health worker, also known as Boma Health Workers in this area, Thomas is bridging the gap that keeps his community from accessing quality health services.

Thomas is among the 73 Boma Health Workers supported by CMMB in Western Equatoria State. Following government-approved curriculum, they have been trained to provide basic healthcare in villages, ensuring early diagnosis and treatment of common diseases.

“When I find a child with high fever, I test and prescribe medication for simple cases and refer children and mothers with serious health conditions to the health facilities for further diagnosis and treatment,” said Thomas. “I also provide health education on water, hygiene, and sanitation; routine immunization; preparation of oral rehydration salt; high-temperature management; and proper use of mosquito nets.”

One of the children Thomas treated a few months ago was an infant, born after a long labor at a CMMB-supported primary health facility. The facility is one of 22 supported by CMMB South Sudan, as part of our Children and Mothers Partnership (CHAMPS) program. Upon discharge, the newborn started experiencing breathing problems. A few days later, the baby’s condition worsened.

As a first-time mother, Celina did not realize the danger her baby was in. But, on a dark and rainy night, she couldn’t stand to hear her child suffer any longer. This was when she called Thomas.

“Thomas came at night while it was raining, wearing a raincoat [and using] a torch [to find his way]. He screened my child for pneumonia,” said Celina.

Following the screening, Thomas provided medication and Celina’s baby began to recover.

Later, during a routine visit back to Celina’s community, Thomas stopped by her house to see how the baby was doing. Before leaving, Thomas conducted another screening, which indicated that the baby had completely recovered. It was a sweet moment of joy and relief for Celina—but one that may not have been possible had Thomas not been there to help.

Health workers like Thomas are helping us rebuild South Sudan’s health systems, strengthening them for today for #HealthForAll tomorrow.

Photos: Alissa Everett/Getty Images for CMMB