ECFMG/FAIMER Awards $180,000 in Grants to Support Global Community Health Projects

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) and its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER®) on Monday announced the award recipients from the 2019 Projects That Work competition. Each of the six projects will receive a $30,000 grant from ECFMG/FAIMER and the opportunity to send a representative to present the project on the world stage.

Launched in 2013, Projects That Work is an annual international competition that shines a spotlight on projects that have had a significant impact on the health of communities and the education of health professionals. This year, for the first time, ECFMG/FAIMER is awarding $180,000 to help recipients expand their work. A representative from each project will present his/her project at the 2019 conference of The Network: Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) to be held September 10-13 in Darwin, Australia.

“The projects are an important link between capacity building of health workers and impact on community health,” says William Burdick, MD, FAIMER’s Vice President for Education. “Our Projects That Work competition highlights the teamwork, innovation, and evaluation that characterize the best of these. We are committed to improving world health through education, and these outstanding projects help advance that important mission.”

For this year’s competition, ECFMG/FAIMER received 53 applications from around the world. Applications were reviewed by a distinguished panel of international reviewers with a wide variety of expertise in health professions education.

Attisso Komlan Dabla
Ending Preventable Deaths in Togo is one of six recipients of the 2019 Projects That Work Awards

The 2019 projects and representatives are:

Project: Chamas for Change: An Integrated Maternal and Child Peer Support and Micro-finance Model in Western Kenya
Country: Kenya
Representative: Laura Ruhl

Chamas for Change is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV)-led peer-support model that empowers women with health education and microfinance literacy during pregnancy and throughout their children’s infancy. Women participating in the program are engaged over three years. They join during the antenatal period and continue through the first and second years postpartum. The intervention combines best practices from women’s health groups and microfinance programs to improve maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) outcomes. Currently, nearly 2,000 women participate in 122 chamas (societies), led by 214 CHVs across the participating counties. A pilot study was conducted and showed a very positive impact on MNCH, and they are in the process of conducting a larger-scale validation study.

Project: ECO-SAN
Country: Rwanda
Representative: Ange Seminega

ECO-SAN was formed in May 2015 as a collaboration between the University of Rwanda and Water for People, to construct latrines for 17 selected families and at three schools for the Batwa, a socially marginalized group in Rwanda that face significant discrimination in education, housing, and employment. There is a high rate of diarrhea and pneumonia-related diseases among the Batwa, so this project aims to raise awareness about hygiene and sanitation through school education and monthly community meetings. The ECO-SAN project has taught thousands of community members proper hygiene techniques, how to properly take care of the latrines, and how to build new ones. By the end of the first year there was a sharp decrease in diarrhea and pneumonia-related cases.

Project: Ending Preventable Deaths in Togo
Country: Togo
Representative: Attisso Komlan Désiré Dabla

The Integrate Health program is aimed at raising the standard of emergency maternal care in under-served and rural areas of Togo, where maternal and child (under five) mortality rates are very high and many of these deaths are from diseases that are entirely treatable at very low costs. The program trains, equips, and supervises community health workers to provide home-based care, and trains traditional healers to help identify danger signs and refer sick women and children to appropriate care. It was piloted effectively in three rural communities and one peri-urban community from 2015 to 2018, and preliminary data indicates a 50 percent reduction in child mortality in those pilot communities.

Project: Improving Malawian Pediatric Assessment and Care through Training (IMPACT)
Country: Malawi
Representative: Charles Mulilima

The IMPACT project began in 2014 to fill the need of providing pre-service Emergency Triage, Assessment, and Treatment (ETAT) training to healthcare professionals in Malawi, ensuring effective patient care to even the most isolated regions. Pre-service ETAT training has been implemented at three universities to teach medical and nursing students early identification management of children with emergency conditions. IMPACT is responsible for the training of lecturers and mobilizing resources for student training. The project leaders also offer refresher training sessions for former students and have developed participant and facilitator manuals for pre-service use. With IMPACT, many new physicians are adequately trained in ETAT procedures and have the skills to perform quality in-patient pediatric care to reduce child mortality.

Project: The Mfangano Health Navigation Program
Country: Kenya
Representative: Robinson Okeyo

The Organic Health Response (OHR) and the Ekialo Kiona Center (EKC) developed the Health Navigation Program to sustainably strengthen maternal emergency care in the Mfangano Island region along the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Approximately 30,000 people reside in these remote fishing communities, which are a two-hour boat ride from the mainland and have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in East Africa. Since the project began in 2014, OHR-EKC has trained more than 30 Health Navigators who have aided with nearly 550 emergency transfers between island facilities and mainland hospitals, with an average response time of 14.44 minutes. This project developed comprehensive referral protocols for two remote Ministry of Health facilities, has written safe birth plans for more than 310 pregnancies, and has implemented the region’s first 24-hour emergency boat service.

Project: Wax and Gold
Country: Ethiopia
Representative: Suzanne Hally

Wax and Gold, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, worked with the staff at Saint Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa to design a comprehensive program that trains existing hospital staff to provide on-site birthing care, attend all deliveries, and perform newborn stabilization and resuscitation. This Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) team is selected from hospital staff members who have Bachelor of Science degrees and a minimum of two years of bedside patient care experience. Baseline data taken before and after the employment of full-time NALS teams show that neonatal mortality decreased from 3.53 percent to .33 percent, and rate of admission into the newborn intensive care unit decreased from 22.8 percent to 10.4 percent in two years.

Eric Nizeyimana of Rwanda, who originally was selected as a 2018 Projects That Work recipient, also will present at the 2019 Network: TUFH conference. His project is titled Community-Based Malaria Prevention Empowerment.

For more information on the Projects That Work competition, visit www.faimer.org/project-competitions/projects-that-work.html.