It’s from a loving heart [that] I can’t stand by and watch one of my people die when I can help. ” – Ntazinda Narcisse, Community Health Worker, Rwanda

In honor of World Health Day on April 7, Concern Worldwide asks you to share this video on a simple yet revolutionary approach that is saving the lives of children in Rwanda with your friends and family.

Every year, 8.1 million children die needlessly from preventable and treatable illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia. While we have the treatments and solutions, mothers and children have to be able to access them for lives to be saved. To do this, Concern Worldwide implemented an approach that shifts from the traditional model of delivering health care solely through health facilities, which requires mothers to travel with their sick children to access treatment, to one that brings frontline services directly to their doorsteps.

The remarkable impact of this model can most recently be seen in Rwanda, where Concern, together with the International Rescue Committee, World Relief, and the Ministry of Health, rolled out a five-year Child Survival Program, funded by USAID, that made health care easily accessible to more than 724,000 women and children, including 318,000 children under five. The program, called “Kabeho Mwana” or “life for a child” scaled up case management for the major childhood killers – malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia – by training more than 6,100 community health workers (CHWs).

Equipped with the knowledge and resources to effectively manage these illnesses in their communities, CHWs became the first-line of treatment for caretakers of children with fever, respiratory symptoms, and diarrhea. At the end of the project, 69 percent of mothers of children under two in the program area had consulted a CHW at least once . On top of this, 40 percent of those who had a sick child in the past two weeks had consulted a CHW.

Because mothers and children now had diagnosis, treatment, referral, and education available in their homes, the program’s impact on malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea was striking:
  • Malaria : The number of children in the target area who received appropriate treatment within 24 hours more than doubled.
  • Pneumonia : The percentage of children with a cough or difficulty breathing who were taken to an appropriate health provider jumped from 13 to 63 percent.
  • Diarrhea : Twice as many households are now treating water before use.

For four-year-old Kennedy, having a CHW nearby made all the difference when he came down with a cough and fever. His mother, Jean D’arc Kayitesi, 28, took him immediately to their local CHW, Concessa Kantarama, who examined Kennedy using techniques from her Kabeho Mwana trainings. Kennedy not only had malaria, but pneumonia as well. She immediately administered an antibiotic and an anti-malarial drug, showing his mother how to continue the treatment at home. Thankfully, Kennedy’s treatment worked and he survived – something that might not have happened if he and his mother did not have Concessa nearby.

For more information about the Kabeho Mwana program in Rwanda, click here .