The Madagascar PHE Network connects, inspires and supports practitioners, donors and policy makers to address Madagascar’s social and environmental challenges in a holistic way.
Health-environment partnerships take off as regional meetings connect field teams
Following our dynamic training and experience sharing workshop in March, we’re delighted to announce the development of several new health-environment partnerships among PHE network members: from Community-Centred Conservation (C3) and the Ministry of Public Health collaborating around Nosy Hara on Madagascar’s beautiful north coast, all the way down to Blue Ventures and USAID Mikolo working together in the southwest Atsimo-Andrefana region.
We’ve also been busy sharing and collating data among PHE network members to build up a picture of our collective results, which we’re happy to share below. And looking ahead to the next few months, we’re going to be connecting at the regional level through MIHARI (LMMA) forums with the aim of establishing more health-environment partnerships to improve the wellbeing of Madagascar’s people and ecosystems!
New partnerships launched since our national workshop
Community-Centred Conservation (C3): we’ve signed a partnership agreement with the District Health Service of Antsiranana II to work together to increase access to basic healthcare for remote communities around Nosy Hara. This is an area where C3 is carrying out a dugong and seagrass conservation project (Enhancing the Conservation Effectiveness of Seagrass Ecosystems Supporting Globally Significant Populations of Dugongs Across the Indian and Pacific Ocean Basins) with funding from the GEF and implementation support by UNEP.
The collaboration between C3 and the District Health Service integrates community health promotion with local marine management efforts. Monthly visits by a doctor and midwife to villages in the Mangoaka commune started in mid June.
Blue Ventures: we’ve signed a partnership agreement with USAID Mikolo to work together to train community health agents (agents communautaires or ACs - already supported by Blue Ventures to offer short-term contraceptives and maternal health information) in the management of childhood illnesses. This collaboration covers the districts of Morombe and Toliara II where Blue Ventures supports a network of coastal communities governing the Velondriake locally managed marine area (LMMA).
USAID Mikolo is a five-year project implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and its local partners. It covers 8 regions of Madagascar and targets communities more than five kilometres from a public health centre with the aim of improving access to community-based health services and promoting the adoption of healthy behaviours. USAID Mikolo’s local partner ASOS Sud trained our ACs in the management of childhood illnesses (diahorrea, malaria and respiratory infections) this month. Next we plan to develop some integrated outreach materials that can be used to facilitate discussions about the connections between natural resource management and community health.
More than 55,000 people reached by PHE network members to date!
With over 40 members now, the PHE network continues to welcome new additions and support the expansion of health-environment partnerships across the country. PHE initiatives are currently underway in marine and terrestrial biodiversity hotspots in 8 regions: Atsimo-Andrefana, Menabe, Melaky, Diana, Sava, Analanjirofo, Atsinanana and Matsiatra Ambony.
We’ve collated data relating to the provision of voluntary family planning services in these zones since the PHE network was created in July 2014, with more than 4,300 couple years of protection* provided through the end of 2015. We’re now implementing a system to track our collective results with key health partners including Marie Stopes Madagascar, and hoping to go beyond simply collecting numbers by also gathering case study profiles of community members involved in PHE initiatives across different regions.
*One “couple year of protection” or CYP is one year of protection from unintended pregnancy for one couple calculated using USAID-approved conversion factors based on the number and type of contraceptives distributed.
Productive networking and coordination meeting in the southwest Atsimo-Andrefana region
A lively networking and coordination meeting was held in Mangily last month with Marie Stopes Madagascar, PSI, WCS, Reef Doctor, Honko, Blue Ventures, CRS and Voahary Salama / HINA / SAGE. The meeting came after great interest was generated among southwest PHE network members at our national PHE workshop held in Antananarivo earlier this year; with much opportunity for cross-sector collaboration in Atsimo-Andrefana, it was clear that the next step should be to hold a coordination meeting at the regional level in order to explore and discuss concrete partnership details.
The meeting started with a brief presentation of existing PHE partnerships in Atsimo-Andrefana; Blue Ventures collaborating with PSI, Marie Stopes Madagascar, the Ministry of Public Health and most recently USAID Mikolo - as well as WCS in the Soariake locally managed marine area (LMMA).
Each health organisation then explained their approaches to community health promotion in the region, and offered suggestions for working together. PSI can do mass awareness with their mobile cinema and establish supply points for ACs in remote villages with assistance from environmental organisations, while Marie Stopes Madagascar can send its mobile outreach team to provide services for isolated communities and can train ACs to refer clients for long-acting contraceptives. These collaboration ideas were received enthusiastically by the environmental organisations present, with planning for joint activities now underway.
PHE sessions at the upcoming regional MIHARI forums
Every year the MIHARI (LMMA) network organises regional forums to facilitate learning exchanges among LMMA communities and build local capacity for marine management. This year between July and September there will be four regional forums - in the northwest, midwest, southwest, and northeast - and we’re delighted to be joining forces with MIHARI to include a PHE session in each one!
Through these PHE sessions, MIHARI network members (including local communities and their supporting organisations) will have the opportunity to learn more about the PHE approach and its advantages, hear from community members who have benefited from PHE initiatives, increase their understanding of how to develop effective health-environment partnerships and connect with various health organisations to explore concrete opportunities for collaboration.
Health actors including the Regional Health Directorates, PSI, Marie Stopes Madagascar and USAID Mikolo will explain the services that they can offer to communities and give more details to MIHARI network members about possible ways of working together. PHE sessions in the midwest and southwest are also due to include site-based PHE learning visits to Belo sur Mer and Velondriake. These PHE sessions will be a great chance for MIHARI network members who are not already part of the PHE network to join and access technical advice about developing PHE partnerships!