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In Burkina Faso, New Community Health Posts Improve Access to Integrated Care

Kiendrébéogo Patindé, head of Lo-Longo health post in Burkina Faso, speaks to a mother at the health post. Photo by Isidore Sinkondo for IntraHealth International.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and community leaders, IntraHealth International establishes Burkina Faso’s first two community health posts.

A mother in Burkina Faso with a sick child walks 6.5 kilometers, on average, to find a health worker. Finding local and available high-quality health services is difficult, especially in rural areas.

The World Health Organization estimates that there is less than 1 physician and fewer than 4 nurses per 10,000 people in Burkina Faso. And while its child mortality rates have declined, the country’s rural geography makes it challenging to promote child health, in part because mothers have to travel great distances to reach health services. 

To improve access in rural communities, the government created a community health strategy in 2019 and urged partners to support its realization. The focus of the community strategy is to encourage more people to seek out care and to improve health outcomes, particularly for women and children.

As part of our INSPiRE project and its activities in Burkina Faso’s Pó District, IntraHealth International collaborated closely with the local Ministry of Health officials, village leaders, and community development groups to use the project’s integrated health services model at the community level. And in September 2020, we established the first two community health posts in the country.

Located in Koubongo and Lo-Longo—two towns in Burkina Faso’s Pó District—each health post is staffed with a community health and hygiene agent (someone who monitors the overall health of the community members through house visits) and two community health workers who deliver high-quality essential services and refer clients to higher levels of care as needed.

Now, women and children living in rural southern Burkina Faso have greater access to lifesaving and preventive health care in their communities—all available in one place.

Women and their children wait to receive services at a health center. Photo by Sinkondo Isidore for IntraHealth International.

By and for the community

Community ownership and stakeholder involvement in Koubongo and Lo-Longo is critical to the success and long-term sustainability of these new health posts.

To ensure community ownership, IntraHealth created a joint committee with leaders from the Ministry of Health, local authorities, and community development groups to plan the health posts and monitor their progress. The committee chose the future sites for the health posts and visited Koubongo and Lo-Longo to discuss the vision of the community health strategy.

“The health post is the first contact with the community,” - Kiendrébéogo Patindé

IntraHealth worked with community members to make sure the health posts are staffed with respected and motivated community health workers. With the Ministry of Health, we developed a community health training manual and conducted health worker training that included a 15-day practical internship at one of the nearby primary health centers.

“The health post is the first contact with the community,” says Kiendrébéogo Patindé, head of the Lo-Longo health post. “It offers preventive, promotional, curative, and supportive care. And the training we received has equipped us to better care for children and better understand and prevent health problems.”

 In the first month, 75 women and their children visited the posts for services. 

The two new health posts began seeing patients in early September and the staff now receive ongoing mentoring, guidance, and resources when needed. In the first month of operation, 75 women and their children visited the posts for services. 

The communities of Koubongo and Lo-Longo are commited to this initiative and have mobilized—and continue to mobilize—local resources to provide time, furniture, site renovations, and maintenance to ensure the health posts will make a long-term difference in the lives of their children and the health of their communities. In fact, they already are making a difference. They contributed in-kind support worth over $5,100 for the establishment of the health posts. And the Lo-Longo community saw that their health post needed a waiting area and meeting space—so they built one themselves.

“It was difficult to go to the health center in Tiébélé for treatment because of the distance and poor road conditions, especially in the rainy season,” says Yadouabou Kabouga Cécile." Now that the health post is in the village, if my child doesn't feel well, I quickly run to see the health worker who helps us immediately. I’ve been to the health post twice now.”

The future of health care in Burkina Faso starts here

In mid-September—only two weeks after the health posts opened—the general director of public health, president of the Integration Technical Working Group at the Ministry of Health, and a high-level delegation of authorities visited both sites.

They saw the services being offered, learned more about integrated care from the new health workers, talked with community members at both health posts, and heard firsthand about the communities’ commitment to increasing access to high-quality care.

Now, thanks to IntraHealth’s support, the the country has a successful model upon which to scale up for rural communities around the country.


Isidore Sinkondo and Isidore Ouédraogo contributed to reporting for this piece. 

IntraHealth has been working in Burkina Faso since 2018 to improve women’s and children’s health. Our INSPiRE project brings health care closer to rural communities by integrating high-quality essential services such as family planning; maternal, newborn, and child health; and nutrition into health care visits. INSPiRE is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Check out the INSPiRE integrated service delivery model here.