USAID/West Africa works to improve the health status of vulnerable populations, especially women and children, by promoting and building partnerships to scale up evidence-based health interventions in West Africa. It accomplishes this through donor coordination, assisting host governments to expand quality health services, advancing evidence- and rights-based policies, and strengthening West African institutions.
USAID has taken a leadership role in advancing donor coordination in West Africa through the Ouagadougou Partnership. The Partnership includes the governments of nine francophone West African countries supported by USAID, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agence Française de Développement, the Gates and Hewlett Foundations, the United Nations Fund for Population Assistance, and the West African Health Organization (WAHO). Its aim is to provide family planning to an additional one million women by 2015. Ensuring donor coordination and aligning national plans for family planning are both critical to this effort.
Family Planning and Maternal and Child Health
USAID/West Africa implements programs that provide an integrated package of family planning, maternal health, HIV prevention and childhood illnesses services. The work has demonstrated that minimally educated health workers can deliver injectable contraceptives, expand treatment for childhood illnesses and reach ten times as many beneficiaries as standalone health facilities. The family planning program is raising awareness of the benefits of family planning and has shown that lower-level health professionals, mainly licensed nurses and midwives, can provide family planning counseling and long-acting and permanent contraceptive methods. The program has also established a regional Contraceptive Early Warning System for 14 countries to avoid stock-outs, low stocks and overstocks.
To address policy and advocacy needs at regional, national and sub-national levels and ensure that host countries are at the center of decision making for their health programs, the program focuses on developing the capacity of government, civil society, and other partners around policy issues related to family planning/reproductive health, HIV, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases.
USAID/West Africa supports Fistula Care project activities in Niger and Sierra Leone to provide fistula treatment and care to women in need, and to reintegrate affected women back into their communities and society at large. The project trains surgeons in fistula repair and provides gynecological surgeries for childbirth injuries, family planning, emergency obstetric services, and outpatient services for children.
To help eradicate polio, USAID/West Africa supports the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Africa to implement supplementary immunization activities in 19 West African countries.
HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support
The goal of USAID/West Africa’s HIV/AIDS program is to prevent new HIV/AIDS infections in key populations and in bridge groups to general populations. The program increases region-wide knowledge and baseline data for key populations by mapping services, estimating population sizes, and determining risk behaviors and HIV prevalence among key populations. The program also addresses critical gaps in HIV programming in the region by strategically targeting interventions that build government political will and resources to engage key stakeholders, including donors and civil society organizations, and support programs that are evidence-based, adaptable, replicable and transferrable throughout the region. Activities include delivering comprehensive prevention, care and support services, establishing referral networks for treatment, and strengthening human and institutional capacity of regional, national and community-based organizations. In addition, USAID/West Africa provides intensive technical support to recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to improve their financial management, monitoring and evaluation, governance and service quality.
USAID/West Africa supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to pass and implement national policies mandating vitamin A fortification of cooking oil and fortification of wheat flour with vitamin A, iron and B vitamins. The program has assisted 12 countries to pass legislation mandating vitamin A fortification of cooking oil and fortification of wheat flour. This effort is expected to prevent childhood morbidity and to avert an estimated 25% of deaths in children under age 5.
Local Capacity Strengthening
USAID/West Africa assists the West African Health Organization (WAHO), an agency of ECOWAS, to harmonize Health Management Information System policies at the regional and country levels in all ECOWAS countries. This support includes activities to improve staff communication, advocacy, leadership, and monitoring and evaluation skills. USAID/West Africa assisted WAHO’s Health Information Systems Steering Committee and Health Information Systems Technical Committee to conduct a regional situation analysis and develop a policy document that was adopted by ECOWAS in April 2012. USAID/West Africa is assisting WAHO to finalize a common list of health indicators that ECOWAS counties will report on annually.
Last updated: April 16, 2015