In Senegal, people of low and middle income confront disparities in access to quality health services. In the critical sector of women’s and children’s care, people outside the capital also face acute geographical disparities, as the majority of services are concentrated in the center of Dakar, leaving the rest of the country underserved. From pregnancy care to child nutrition, great efforts are needed to narrow the gaps in both the quality and extent of health care services available.
Through a partnership with the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub activity (Trade Hub), the NEST medical network (NEST) has expanded the reach of healthcare workers (skilled midwives, nurses, and doctors) to provide care for women and children in underserved urban and peri-urban areas. NEST is leveraging the USAID co-investment and its own resources to add eight healthcare points of service to its network in Dakar’s peri-urban areas and in underserved rural regions (Thies, Kaolack, and Diourbel). This will enable more than 50,000 patients to access affordable and quality services for pregnant people and newborns. The network will also provide in-person professional training to 50 midwives and nurses and virtual training to 90 midwives and nurses. This delivery-enhancing program will help empower self-employed health workers while building a pool of paramedical staff qualified in newborn care protocols and norms for prenatal and postnatal visits.
The Trade Hub co-investment strengthens both NEST’s own network and the healthcare ecosystem in Senegal. It allows NEST to increase the scale of its operations, and expand its geographical and financial reach for low- and middle-income populations through the integration of new local points of service. This also allows NEST to grow in partnership with skilled midwives and nurses. More broadly, training health professionals and attracting them to underserved areas is narrowing the gap between high- and low-to-middle-income patients.
In addition, the co-investment partnership will upgrade the skills of essential caregivers in Senegal and empower self-employed, isolated caregivers through training and integration into a larger maternal and childcare network. The training center will build a pool of qualified paramedical staff, trained on both quality management and up-to-date care protocols and norms.
“Our vision for improving access to quality health services, especially in the area of women and childcare, relies on three key pillars,” said Khadidiatou Nakoulima, CEO of NEST. “Upskilled midwives and nurses who are continuously trained should be at the forefront of patients’ care, and should refer patients to doctors when necessary. A quality management system is essential to ensure both a standard level of quality across the points of care and continuous improvement. Lastly, information technology should support processes to gain efficiency and improve coordination between health professionals, ultimately improving patients’ care journeys.”