Health cannot wait: Muso’s proactive healthcare system
The human right to health care means that hospitals, clinics, medicines, and doctors’ services must be accessible, available, acceptable, and of good quality for everyone, on an equitable basis, where and when needed. But in today’s world, where you live matters more than ever. The 2015 ILO report showed that 56% of people living in rural areas worldwide do not have access to essential health-care services, including clinics and doctors. Only in Africa, 83% of people living in rural communities have no healthcare provision and millions of people die every year from preventable and treatable diseases. Their deaths constitute one of the greatest injustices in our world today.
Most healthcare in the world is passive as doctors and community health workers (CHW) wait for patients to come to them. In 2005, a small group of Malians and Americans came together to address the injustices of health and poverty they witnessed around them in Mali. They realised that to save lives in the world’s poorest communities, a preventative and proactive healthcare system that removes barriers and brings care to patients is crucial. Thus, they founded Muso, a grass-root organisation that deploys CHW door-to-door to proactively search for patients and deliver packages of life-saving healthcare services in people’s homes. These include family planning, new-born screenings, and treatment for children with malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition.
In the communities of Yirimadjo, where Muso began serving one hundred people over a decade ago and currently serves over 175,000 people, the rate of under-five child mortality was 155/1000 at baseline. Three years after the rollout of Muso's health system, the rate of under-five child mortality was 17/1000: the percentage of children starting effective malaria treatment within 24 hours of symptom onset increased from 15% to 28%, and the percentage of children sick with a fever decreased by 15%.
The proactive health system is designed for simplicity, so that it can be easily used throughout the world despite the cultural, linguistic, geographical, and religious differences. Following the successful results in Yirimadjo, Muso brought the same healthcare model to the rural communes of Bankass, where they observed the same successful change in healthcare. Over 2016, the Muso team increased access to care in one rural site, Tori, tenfold, reaching a near-universal coverage steady state for Tori’s 25,000 people within two months of opening.
The cost of weak health systems that are incapable of providing all people with the preventive services and treatments they need is steep. Building strong health systems is certainly not easy, but it is possible and, indeed, necessary. Muso’s healthcare system not only creates healthy, productive, and resilient families, communities, and economies, but it taps the power of social networks, community leaders, and local women as communities take the lead to create lasting change.