Kodialan-Coulibaly is a small rural village of 449 inhabitants located in Sirakorola, Mali. After learning about the fundamentals of human rights, health, hygiene, and problem solving processes in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), participants and members of the Community Management Committee (CMC) were motivated to search for a solution to improve access to healthcare, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in the community. In the past, villagers have cited the lack of financial means as a reason for low attendance at health centers for regular treatment.

To overcome this challenge, the CMC set up a community health fund run by the health committee to improve access to healthcare. The funds are generated through monthly contributions from CEP participants and CMC members, and the contributions help replenish the funds that are managed by the health committee of the CMC. The fund provides the sick and needy the financial means necessary to receive care at a health center.  The CMC Health Committee then allocates the funds to CEP participants, as well as the larger community in need of medical care, in the form of an interest-free repayable loan. The reimbursement deadline for these loans is one month after the healing of the recipient.

CEP participant M’paye Diabaté is a beneficiary of the community health fund who tells her story:  “One day my child had diarrhea and was vomiting. My husband and I did not have money to take him to the health center. So I asked the CMC to give me a loan from the community health fund, and they accepted. I was very relieved that day. I paid the money back to the CMC two weeks later.”

Dioma Coulibaly, member of the Health Committee, said, “Thanks to the Tostan program, we understand that health is a human right for everybody, and each one of us has the responsibility to contribute to its promotion. Our initiative that began on April 15, 2014 falls within this framework. For 22,500 FCFA we have already helped three people in our community to get healthcare.”

This innovative community-led approach to promoting healthcare has attracted more and more members to attend health centers every day. It continues to inspire neighboring communities to prioritize health and establish a similar dynamic of community solidarity.