Rural Health Mission Nigeria (RHEMN) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on eliminating barriers to quality healthcare access in hard-to-reach and underserved communities in Nigeria. RHEMN helps address disparities facing pregnant women and children in rural Nigeria by providing access to quality healthcare services through community health worker capacity building, supporting local clinics with essential consumables, and mobilizing volunteers for outreach to remote communities to address short-term medical needs and reduce out-of-pocket expenses for poor families facing crises. RHEMN advocate at multiple levels of government for public health policy to strengthen the primary healthcare system, and foster community health awareness and wellness by organizing conferences and workshops.
In 2021, focusing on her 3 main projects including lifesaving project, capacity building, and public health advocacy, the organization records the following milestones in the last 12 months:
- Lifesaving Kits Distribution; The organization distributed over 1000 birth kits to support clean and safe facility deliveries in various communities. The lifesaving kit was invented by the organization in 2019 following the WHO standard of ensuring clean delivery. The kit is designed for use in hard-to-reach rural communities. This intervention reached a total of 43 rural communities in Plateau, Gombe, Yobe, and Taraba states. The kits which are given to pregnant women at the point of delivery at the health facilities contain sanitary pads, antiseptic soap, sterile gloves, and methylated spirit among other items.
- Under the “Lifesaving Intervention Project,” the organization enrolled over 1000 pregnant women who received full doses of FREE prenatal medication support to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy. Each of these pregnant women is supported by home health volunteers who conduct pre and postnatal home visits on them to ensure that they are healthy and in good condition throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. A follow-up system designed to take quality maternal health services to pregnant and breastfeeding women at home is a key component of the project. The volunteers visit the women to enquire about their well-being and if need be, take them back to the health facilities for care. They also telephone the women periodically to check up on them and provide counseling where necessary.
- The organization has supported over 1000 Under-five year children with micronutrients and deworming medications to address malnutrition among children in rural communities.
- Under the health workers’ capacity building program, the organization trained 153 birth attendants (home health volunteers) on basic lifesaving skills, birth preparedness, and complication readiness techniques. The home health volunteers support pre and postnatal care to quickly identify and eliminate or reduce any risk of complication during the puerperal period.
- The organization also trained 315 primary healthcare workers on effective clinical decision-making to improve their competency in inpatient care. In addition, the project also introduced the community health workers to an SMS-based, free-for-use mobile technology to promote improved maternal health practices in remote communities. The mHealth technology, otherwise called the critical healthcare information integration network (CHIIN) is designed and deployed by a US-based nonprofit organization in collaboration with Rural Health Mission Nigeria to help community health workers provide high-quality healthcare in remote communities. The CHIIN platform is an SMS-based, free-for-use mHealth medical reference tool that gives CHWs access to relevant medical information based on important considerations and best practices in sexual health and family planning, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postnatal mother and infant care, without the need to use the internet. In addition, the tool contains a database of information on the risk factors, symptoms, diagnoses, management strategy, drug information, and complications of nearly 100 context-relevant infectious and noncommunicable diseases. This technology allows the health workers to practice with confidence as it links them to highly reliable medical information and best practices.
- In the past 12 months, the home health volunteers have conducted over 1000 home visits to counsel and support pregnant women to ensure they are healthy during and after delivery. The volunteers visit the women to enquire about their well-being and if need be, take them back to the health facilities for care.
- To enhance universal health coverage, the organization hosted the first and largest advocacy platform for policymakers and civil society organizations in Gombe state to engage and dialogue with the view of identifying areas of collaboration and partnership to advance universal health coverage. The event which took place on 14th December 2021 reflects the 2021 theme for Universal Health Day: “Leave No One’s Health Behind: Invest in health systems for all”. The goal of the dialogue is to provide a friendly platform for advocates and policymakers to identify opportunities and areas of collaboration to advance universal health coverage in Gombe state.
The organization under its various programs and projects currently supports 43 primary healthcare facilities across four states in Nigeria. Over 100 communities served by the above PHC facilities are currently benefiting from this intervention. The intervention spreads across 4 states of Gombe, Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe states targeting under-served and isolated rural communities. The organization hopes to scale up this intervention in 2022 to reach more communities to save more lives.