New Program to Train More Student Nurses in Francophone West Africa, Bring Care to More Communities

Chapel Hill, NC

Through the new Classroom to Care project, IntraHealth International is partnering with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and 12 private schools in Mali, Senegal, and Niger to sustainably increase the number of qualified, well-trained nurses who can serve rural communities in these countries—all of which face a critical shortage of health workers. Takeda announced this week that IntraHealth is one of the recipients of their 2021 Global CSR Program, which will fund this work.

IntraHealth and Takeda will work with four schools in each of the three countries over the course of five years, helping them partner effectively with the public sector, achieve the appropriate accreditations, enhance competency-based curricula, create effective learning approaches, and graduate students from underserved areas—all as part of our effort to ensure that everyone everywhere has the health care they need to thrive.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Takeda to help solve the shortage of highly trained nurses in rural communities in Mali, Senegal, and Niger,” says Polly Dunford, president and CEO of IntraHealth. “This partnership will revolutionize the way health workers are trained at private nursing schools, improve health care in the communities that need it most, and draw more brilliant young students to the profession.”

IntraHealth has been working with health workers in West Africa for over four decades. In Mali, Niger, and Senegal, we’ve collaborated with government and civil society partners to help the health sector achieve national health workforce goals by strengthening health systems and the health workforce and increasing access to lifesaving maternal and child health, family planning and reproductive health, and nutrition services. Highlights include:

More health workers for rural Mali

In Mali, IntraHealth and the Ministry of Health developed a national training policy and strategy to help rural regions develop, manage, and retain their own health workers. For example, the Gao Nursing School, which IntraHealth has supported since it opened in 2001, is now responsible for graduating 89% of all the health workers in northern Mali.

“The school has added 1,681 midwives, nurses, and lab technicians to Mali’s health workforce,” says Cheick Touré, IntraHealth’s Mali country director. “It was such a successful program that USAID asked us to scale it up and we supported 10 more schools in other parts of the country.”

This new partnership with Takeda is an opportunity to scale up this successful approach in additional Sahel countries that are facing the same critical shortages of health workers in rural and underserved areas.

Integrated service delivery

As part of IntraHealth’s INSPiRE West Africa regional project, IntraHealth developed an integration model that includes health worker training curricula and job aids, data collection tools that reinforce integrated service delivery, and virtual and in-person mentoring and supervision.

After the model was introduced in Niger, immediate postpartum family planning increased by 96% in all INSPiRE-supported facilities in from 2018 to 2019.

Safe, home-based services during COVID-19

As part of The Challenge Initiative in Senegal, we’ve been training high-performing local health workers to coach community health workers and organize household visits, which help minimize large gatherings at health facilities during COVID-19. This also provides women who are unable or unwilling to visit a health center with family planning information, counseling, and infection-prevention guidance from a safe distance.

In collaboration with Takeda, IntraHealth will build on these experiences in the region to train more than 14,000 nursing students so they can provide high-quality health care to the clients in their communities and help schools continue to produce nursing graduates who can do so for generations to come.

IntraHealth will partner with Empower School of Health, a leading global digital learning and capacity-building organization, to develop an eLearning Management System and RMNCH learning modules to respond to project needs.