Bettering the World through Community Health
Our community health initiatives respond to the specific needs of the communities where we live and work.
Women’s health has become a common thread in many of our strategic initiatives. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, one of our highest-impact initiatives has been helping communities construct wells to provide safe drinking water. We involve the communities in an inclusive process to identify the need and plan the project, using local workers for construction and educating them on sanitation and maintenance. The impacts are many: a healthier community, local jobs, and relief from the need to cart jugs of water from distant sources – a burden that typically falls on the women and children of the community. In 2018, we helped construct four wells in Ngang Nsomo, Mbe Concentrado, Salome and Acurenam, bringing our total to 13 wells since 2008.
More directly, we support women’s health in Equatorial Guinea through our partnerships with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Medical Care Development International (MCDI).
The UNFPA maternal health and neo-natal program enables women to take control of their bodies and reproductive health and deliver healthier babies through appropriate pre-natal and childbirth care, and empowers them to become advocates for others. This program reaches nearly 40 percent of the population in two provinces: Bioko Norte and Kie Ntem. Our funding helps build the program’s capacity, including training doctors and establishing clinics where women can obtain the medical counseling and services they need. In 2018, we made it possible for a UNFPA staff member to travel to Houston for training at the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical center.
Our support for Medical Care Development International (MCDI) is helping reduce cervical cancer rates through early screening and treatment. Phase one of the project continued in 2018, providing cervical cancer screening and treatment (CCST) activities in the consultorios (clinics). The second phase of the project added seven new consultorios throughout Equatorial Guinea in Malabo, Luba, Ebebiyin, Evinayong, Mongomo, and Bata. In 2018, more than 9,000 women were screened for cervical cancer across all clinics on Bioko Island and the mainland region. The project also increases local capacity:
- 49 health staff trained in cervical cancer screening and treatment techniques;
- 54 community leaders trained to promote CCST activities and screening seeking behaviors
- 39 journalists trained to promote CCST activities and screening seeking behaviors
- 900 health providers trained across all health facilities in Equatorial Guinea.
Another area where we have been working to reduce maternal mortality rates is, surprisingly, Texas. Though a 2016 report showing abnormally high rates in the state has since been shown to be flawed, newer data still indicates disproportionally higher rates of mortality for women of color. Our support for the Legacy Community Health Services High Risk Obstetrical Program aims to reduce mortality rates through connecting women who have risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure with specialists early in pregnancy and with delivery hospitals well in advance of due dates to ensure a smooth continuum of care. The three-year pilot program served more than 9,900 high-risk patients from 2016 through 2018. A third-party review found it effective in connecting patients with the resources they need.
Other major initiatives we support focus on wider community health issues.
Our decade-long program to fight malaria in Equatorial Guinea is making strides to eradicate the disease. Transmitted by mosquito bites, malaria infects an estimated 215 million people each year and causes 438,000 deaths. Of these fatalities, 90 percent are in Africa. Our investment – in partnership with Marathon Oil – includes two components: the Bioko Island Malaria Control Program and the Equatorial Guinea Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Since 2004, the Bioko Island program has focused on reducing disease transmission from mosquitos by funding insecticide spraying, mosquito netting and personal protection.
The progress is evident:
- The inhabitants of Bioko Island are getting fewer mosquito bites from mosquitos with the malaria parasite
- The prevalence of Malaria parasitaemia in children ages 2-14 years has decreased from 45% to 10% in the last two years
- The transmission of malaria is not uniform throughout the island; there are areas of zero, low, medium and high prevalence of parasitaemia
- Number of confirmed malaria cases at MINSABS centers on Bioko Island has decreased by 60% in the last three years
Experts believe that by addressing both the transmission mechanism (mosquito bites) and the disease resistance (through vaccines), the prevalence of malaria in the Bioko Island community can be reduced to nearly zero within the next five years.
In Colorado, we focus on helping children and families experiencing trauma stabilize, heal and reintegrate back into their communities through our twelve-year partnership with the Tennyson Center.
We were an early supporter of the Tennyson Center pilot program in Weld County to bring needed services to that community. The results of the pilot program indicate that families are stabilizing. In fact, 94 percent of children enrolled remain in the same living situation and 88 percent remain in the same school placement. The Tennyson Center takes an open approach to each situation and leverages a toolbox of therapeutic options to address the unique needs of each family.
In Texas, we are working with local health organizations to increase access to health services. In 2018, we partnered to provide dental screenings and services to as many children as possible through a back-to-school event for students residing in the underserved region of Carrizo Springs. The UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry deployed a mobile van unit and set up portable equipment inside the community center to maximize the number of individuals that could be served. Children were screened to determine the unmet oral health needs and education on preventive care and oral health were also provided. Children in need of dental primary care services could choose to have an appointment scheduled for treatment at a subsequent visit.