In spite of its weaknesses, Benin’s health system has made progress in many areas. National policies and programs favor the poor, providing free or affordable health services to those in need, and the structure of the health system ensures access to health services in all sub-districts of the country. A focus on malaria has galvanized both the Ministry of Health and donors into a collaborative network driven to eliminate malaria as a killer in Benin.
- USAID also helped pioneer community-based primary health care in the country, improving the use and quality of health workers, services, referral systems, and health financing.
- To reduce maternal deaths during childbirth, USAID has promoted the widespread use of an approach called active management of the third stage of labor, which helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
- Guinea worms can spread a painful and sometimes debilitating parasitic infection, which was previously common especially in rural areas in Benin. In 2004 guinea worm was eradicated in Benin as a result of USAID water and sanitation improvements and community outreach campaigns.
Malaria has been the number one reason for health center visits in Benin for the last decade. Severe malaria kills 1,500-2,000 Beninese children every year and causes anemia in most children. Since 2008, through the President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID has sprayed homes for mosquitoes, distributed over 3 million bed nets, and provided more than 3 million children and 1.5 million pregnant women with medicines to treat or prevent malaria. USAID-supported reforms at central medical stores have improved transparency and availability of drugs and commodities.
Our efforts to reduce the burden of malaria in Benin include:
- Prevention: indoor residual spraying, universal distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, and campaigns to encourage the use of bed nets
- Diagnosis and treatment: rapid diagnostic tests, intermittent preventive treatment for pregnant women, integrated community case management and increased availability of artemisinin-based combination therapy
- Capacity building: stronger local leadership, management, and governance for malaria control, improved health information, and supply chain systems
Maternal and Child Health
For every 1,000 babies born alive in Benin, 67 will die before their first birthday and 125 will not reach age five. For every 100,000 babies born alive, 400 of their mothers will die giving birth. This means that 18,000 children and 1,500 mothers die each year—an enormous toll on Beninese families. The most common causes of child deaths are preventable: malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and neonatal conditions (prematurity and birth asphyxia), with malnutrition as a contributing factor. Most maternal deaths are due to hemorrhaging, eclampsia, infections, and prolonged labor.
USAID focuses on increasing the availability and use of quality health services, products, and preventive practices that will improve the health of Beninese mothers and children. We support the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s package of high-impact interventions at the community and primary care levels: antenatal care, health worker training for postpartum care, malaria prevention and family planning, and immunizations.
Even though obstetric fistulas could be repaired by surgery, most women with fistulas do not seek surgery because of the stigma, a lack of knowledge of where to get help, or the inability to pay for a skilled surgeon’s services. Since 2008, USAID has embraced the Benin Ministry of Health’s strategy to eliminate obstetric fistulas, scaling up surgical repair by developing local surgical capacity, increasing community awareness, and promoting best practices for prevention.
In 2006, only 6.1 percent of Beninese women reported using modern contraceptives; the Ministry of Health has set a goal to triple that rate by 2015. We are supporting its efforts to expand access to high-quality, voluntary family planning services, information, and reproductive health care on a sustainable basis. These programs promote healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies by allowing couples to plan better. They also substantially reduce deaths and disabilities among mothers and children and mitigate unsustainable population growth rates.
Last updated: February 20, 2014