As part of our model, Mano a Mano clinics provide comprehensive health care to the community, focusing on basic services such as infant and maternal health, vaccinations, and dental care. One of the most critical elements to ensure long-term success is our health education program. Mano a Mano’s network of clinics continues to grow (check our results page for our current total), and it is very important that the medical staff in each of our existing clinics continues to learn best practices to provide the best possible care.
The health education program has two main components:
Volunteer Health Promoters
In every community where a clinic is built, an average of 10 local residents are trained as volunteer health promoters; these health promoters serve as first responders as well as advocates to let other residents know about the services provided in the clinic.
Continuing Education Workshops
Mano a Mano’s clinics now have 412 doctors, nurses, and dentists on staff, and all are required to attend at least one continuing health education workshop within a 2-year period. Each workshop is scheduled for Mano a Mano doctors, nurses, or dentists, with topics chosen based on the immediate concerns of our medical staff in the clinics (this year there have been 173 different topics covered in these workshops).
Workshop schedule for 2011:
On average there have been 60 Mano a Mano medical staff attendees per workshop; courses are taught by volunteer healthcare professionals from Cochabamba and our Mano a Mano Bolivia staff. There are more than 300 attendees for the International Acute Care Conferences, which are a collaborative effort by Mano a Mano Bolivia and MELA (a 5th conference is scheduled for May 2012).
Why Health Education is Important
The health education outreach is a critical component of Mano a Mano’s clinic program. From our perspective, it is imperative that our medical staff continue to learn in order to become better healthcare professionals and to ultimately improve the healthcare provided to the communities they serve. Maternal and child survival rates dramatically improve when deliveries are attended by trained personnel, which is the primary objective in our clinics.
From the perspective of our medical staff, health education is an additional incentive to continue to work in Mano a Mano clinics, which are often located in isolated rural locations. They look forward to the opportunity to travel to Cochabamba and spend three days with their colleagues and Mano a Mano staff.
In addition, the topics in the workshops are chosen by the attendees, which gives them greater confidence and knowledge that they can apply in their clinics. Evaluation questionnaires given to workshop attendees consistently show that 90%+ consider the workshops to be of high value to their clinic practice. The rural locations and difficult conditions in which our medical staff work is one of our greatest challenges, but because of our strong support structure through frequent radio communication, clean living quarters for doctors and nurses in the clinics, access to needed medical supplies, and continuing health education we have been able to retain our ever-growing staff in even the most rural communities, which now numbers 450+ positions.