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A Network of Care

When Manouchcha’s one-year-old daughter was diagnosed with malnutrition, she didn’t have the money to feed her well. “I was afraid the disease would worsen,” said the young mother who lives in Mapou, a remote village in Haiti, and was struggling financially at the time. 

It is situations like this one that World Relief’s USAID-funded Strengthening Community Health Outcomes through Positive Engagement (SCOPE) Project addressed. Through SCOPE, we worked to reduce preventable maternal and child mortality and morbidity in some of the remotest parts of Haiti, Kenya, Malawi and South Sudan.

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According to UNICEF, five million children under the age of 5 died in 2021 alone. The preceding year, the World Health Organization reported that approximately 287,000 women died during and after pregnancy and childbirth. Tragically, many deaths could have been prevented. 

SCOPE addressed this crisis by incorporating World Relief’s Care Group model, which was developed in 1995 and has been implemented by multiple NGOs in over 40 countries. Care Groups consist of 10-15 volunteers who are trained and share life-saving information with mothers in nearby households through home visits. 

In the SCOPE design, Care Group volunteers made referrals to community health workers (CHWs), who then conducted home visits, checking on pregnant women, mothers and newborns. CHWs reinforced the health information shared by Care Groups, identified danger signs and referred community members to a health facility if needed. 

It was CHWs who identified malnutrition in Manouchcha’s daughter. Through home visits and community meetings, the toddler received health screenings while Manouchcha learned where to find inexpensive, nutritious food for her daughter.

The health workers also addressed a subject that Manouchcha had long considered taboo — family planning. She learned that family planning would help her and her husband care for the child they already had with their current resources. Now, she hopes to start a small business for additional income before conceiving another child. “Then I can feed them well, keep them healthy and educate them well,” she said.  Manouchcha’s family is just one of 52,550 households that benefited from SCOPE-supported CHWs  in FY2023. The project also trained 18,910 Care Group volunteers, who shared health messages among 192,355 women over the life of the project.

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In Turkana, Kenya, a husband shared during a project assessment: “I have been killing animals to heal my child [because that is what we are taught in our community]; but I have never been successful. But when the teachings [by CHW] were introduced, this situation changed for me. Now I don’t lose my animals. Now things are different; when a child gets sick, we call the CHV [Community Health Volunteer], and he rushes to where we are to attend to that child or refer us to treatment.” 

Through SCOPE, we created a network of life-saving health care for mothers and children, thereby helping families and communities build a healthier future. Together, we’re creating change that lasts.

SCOPE trained faith leaders to share critical health messages with their congregations, reinforcing the messages of Care Groups and CHWs. In FY23, we trained 5,826 faith leaders. In total, 354,170 individuals — including 131,441 children under five — were reached across all areas of SCOPE’s work (CHWs, Care Groups and Faith Leaders).

Shreya Shukla Thornton is the Senior Content Manager at World Relief. With over 13 years of experience in communication, she enjoys forging a connection through storytelling. She holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Calcutta and a master’s in strategic communication from Regent University.

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