Closing the Health Care Gap in Cote d’Ivoire

To date, EGPAF has helped more than 1 million women access PMTCT services in Cote d'Ivoire.

Olivier Asselin/EGPAF

During a recent trip to Cote d’Ivoire, I had the opportunity to learn about a great program that was started in 2008 by EGPAF in association with the National Institute of Training for Social Workers (INFS). EGPAF recognized a gap in care for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the area of psychological and emotional support, and saw an opportunity to partner with INFS to respond. The resulting program has had a national impact, becoming a powerful example of using human resources to achieve health care goals. Now, EGPAF is again leading the charge to ensure this important initiative continues to be a shining example in Cote d’Ivoire.

EGPAF Cote d’Ivoire has partnered with INFS to create pre-service training (PST) programs for social workers. The nine-month program is offered to all certified social workers with the aim of improving psychosocial support for PLHIV and reinforcing support for pregnant women in need of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services. Recently-graduated social workers are placed at sites around the country to learn more about on-the-ground health needs and gain much-needed experience.

The first 45 days of the training program is devoted to theory, followed by 30 days spent in a hospital setting being overseen directly by a healthcare professional. The final six months is spent working in health facilities where students can continue to develop their skills and benefit from the knowledge and experience of other healthcare workers at the site.

The program has resulted in higher quality service delivery and a more qualified workforce. Some results from the first three years of the project show that of the 151 social workers trained, 142 are currently employed and providing services to populations – including PLHIV –on Ministries of Health and Social Affairs sites. Because of the contribution of the trainees:

Claire O’ Connor is Country Officer for Cote d’Ivoire for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.