A healthy population is critical to reducing poverty and ensuring a strong workforce that can contribute to the country’s economy. To achieve that goal, USAID enhances the delivery of essential health services by increasing availability of health services and promoting citizens’ use of them. We also strengthen the governance of health sector resources by improving key management systems, increasing citizen participation in decision-making with local governments regarding the use of health resources, and by confronting the challenges of corruption. Finally, we have a special focus on the country’s most vulnerable populations, including the extreme poor, and those impacted by gender-based violence.
EXPANDING HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY
Benin has some of the highest maternal and child mortality rates worldwide. We’ve helped pioneer community-based primary health care, improving the use and quality of community health workers, services, referral systems, and financing. A focus on malaria galvanizes both the Ministry of Health and donors into a collaborative network driven to eliminate malaria as a killer.
Health risks for women start early in life, and in households, more attention is often given to the well-being of boys than that of girls. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a crosscutting theme across our work. We provide support to women’s health programs through maternal and reproductive health interventions and supplement those programs with efforts to sensitize men to women’s health needs in family planning, pregnancy, and childbirth.
STRENGTHENING GOVERNANCE OF HEALTH SECTOR SERVICES
Our efforts to improve governance not only strengthen health institutions and citizens’ confidence but lead to a healthier population and a stronger democracy. USAID bolsters management systems to improve performance of the health system and to expand the availability and quality of health services and products. Our efforts to deepen citizen engagement with public health officials brings local realities into the decision-making process. Finally, assistance in confronting corruption and illegality reinforces the overall effectiveness of existing health interventions.
IMPROVING PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
USAID works with local government and civil society to improve access to health services for underserved communities. Along the Lagos-Abidjan corridor, our support provides access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care services for at risk sex worker and LGBT populations. USAID builds up the efforts of local organizations to counter the culture of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) towards women and girls, which continues to impede the country’s development. USAID supports Benin in formulating and implementing public policy tools that protect the rights of women and girls with laws against sexual harassment and GBV. By integrating health, psychosocial, and legal services in one stop care centers, USAID also works across government entities to provide holistic response services to GBV survivors.
REGIONAL PROGRAMS- AGRICULTURE, TRADE, WATER AND SANITATION
USAID Benin regularly engages with the West Africa Regional Mission in Accra in the management and oversight of regional programs. Agriculture programs aim to improve access to high quality seeds and fertilizers, and to support sustainable agricultural productivity while increasing economic and social benefits. Through helping to build more competitive and sustainable cashew and shea industries, USAID works to improve rural livelihoods. Trade programs focus on policy advocacy and technical assistance to build regional and global trade linkages and attract investments. Sanitation and clean water needs are addressed through a program promoting household latrines. These programs and collaborative approach aim to pool human resources and knowledge in order to best ensure that results are achieved.
Benin is advancing on its development journey, facing important challenges of health, democracy, and stability. While President Talon’s ambitious development goals outlined in the Programme d’Action du Gouvernement (PAG) have resulted in significant achievements, the day-to-day reality for many Beninese is still challenging. The population is mostly young, works in the informal economy, and is faced with high rates of morbidity and mortality from preventable illnesses treated by an underequipped health system. High morbidity from malaria, shocks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing rates of HIV among key populations are all concerns. There are also persistent gender gaps in household decision making, the political participation of women, and access to education for girls, and Benin ranks low at 159 on the UN Gender Inequality Index. Health care service delivery, access, and supply chains are in need of support. However, a productive and efficient health care system is not possible unless the contextual conditions of democratic challenges and threats to security and stability are also addressed.