Digital transformation in Burkina Faso: the case of ‘LucAS health Clinic’

Formal logo of the LucAS health Clinic

PART I: Conceptual: the project on paper

1.1. Introduction

In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agenda was built on the principle of “leaving no one behind” by emphasising a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all (United Nations). Among these goals is the need to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (#Envision2030 Goal 3) that this article is going to focus on in the specific context of Burkina Faso.

Since 2000, Burkina Faso adopted a national public health policy which has been applied through the implementation of national health plans (PNDS): the PNDS 2000–2010 updated into the PNDS 2011–2020. The change of political regime in January 2016 introduced the National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES) as the new context for managing public health in Burkina Faso. This document is treating health issue holistically: recognising the potential of healthy youth for the demographic dividend and the economy at large, deploring the lack of qualified human resources, equipment, infrastructures and good health services, pointing out the crucial need to improve governance and research in this sector, etc.

To achieve the #Envision2030 Goal 3 while aligning with national priorities, the PNDES focused on promoting populations health and accelerating the demographic transition. The ambitions include to reduce the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births from 330 in 2015 to 242 in 2020, the infant-juvenile mortality rate per 1,000 live births from 81.6 in 2015 to 54.7 in 2020, the fatality rate of severe malaria in children under 5 from 1.4% in 2015 to less than 1% in 2020, the rate of prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from 0.90% in 2015 to 0.77% in 2020 and to increase the proportion of Generic Essential Drug Deposits (PNDES, 2016–2020).

To make this possible, one of the actions that draws our attention is reducing the regional inequalities in the access to health across Burkina Faso. Being a citizen of Burkina Faso with a good knowledge of health practices, in view of the government efforts and the great contribution of private actors to health provision, I decided with the help of other crypto currency users to launch a health project.

“PART I: the project on paper’ is conceptual and the first of two parts. It aims to present the project as it is designed: a summary, the promoters, the rationale and the expected outcomes. A focus will be made on the most important achievement which is building a medical facility named ‘LucAS health clinic’.

1.2. The project summary

- Project title: ‘Improving health services in the province of Tuy (Houndé) through digital fundraising’.

- Country/Location: Burkina Faso, Province of Tuy, ‘Hauts Bassins’ Region

- Planned Start date: September 2017

- Primary sector: Health

- Secondary sector: Environment, Financial technology

1.3. The project rationale

1.3.1. The project strategic context

Houndé is a city located in the province of Tuy (which is divided into 6 departments), in the Hauts-Bassins Region of Burkina Faso. It is situated about 100 km east by northeast of Bobo-Dioulasso along the trunk road Route nationale N1 to Ouagadougou. In 2006, the population of Houndé was estimated at 111193 men (49%) and 117265 women (51%) for a total of 228 458 inhabitants. Between 2006 and 2011, the population grew at 19% (INSD, 2013).

In terms of culture, there are different ethnic groups with a strong social cohesion within and between them which kept the region a very peaceful place for very long time.

The economy of Houndé is characterized by high potentials of natural resources compared to other regions at country level. Located in the rainfall region of Burkina, Houndé has been for decades among the top agricultural and cotton culture zones of Burkina Faso. This is also where we find some mineral resources such as gold, manganese, etc. To give an idea of what this means internationally, in 2016 Burkina was the 5th world biggest cotton exporter and the 20th world biggest gold exporter (The Observatory of Economic Complexity).

Considering social sectors, statistics are lower compare to other provinces of the region. In 2010/2011, the gross enrollment ratio for the province was 77,2 % compare to 85,9 % the average for the whole region. In the same year, there were only 27 medical Doctors in the province and 142 in the region.

Nowadays, Houndé is an attractive city for investors, young people, both nationally and internationally.

1.3.2. Demonstrating experience / specialist knowledge

The project ‘Improving health services in the province of Tuy (Houndé) through digital fundraising’ was originally designed with the aim to facilitate the access to health by offering services at low cost. Because the public hospital is facing high numbers of patients with limited resources, the idea is to reinforce by offering better services, a more hygienic accommodation, good equipment and the more particularly at a social price.

Another reason that motivated the conception of this project is the increasing risks of health issues due to the gold exploitation, faced by innocent populations. Let’s note that after the public hospital of Houndé which is actually a medical centre with chirurgical unit, the biggest and university hospital is located 100 Kilomaters away in Bobo Dioulasso. This is another challenge that needs to be solved in the future. The last driving force of this project is the need to fight against malaria and other tropical diseases faced by pregnant women, children and other vulnerable people.

In team of few crypto currency users included myself who lived more than 20 years in Houndé, we decided to try something. After discussing the issue with retired surgeons, medical practitioners and medical students we finally got on raising digital funds to build a facility which would be managed by experienced local staff in their free time. The staff would be paid reasonably as a way to ensure the sustainability. In order to offer social price to patients, we envisioned to bring grants to cover the functioning expenses. More details about the project activities will be developed in next pages.

1.3.3. The project risks/assumptions

  • Crypto currency markets and the flow of donations are unpredictable. In the case of high drops in prices and/or amounts of donations, the project functioning and its sustainability could be affected in the short term because of lack of grants. We assume that in the long run, we will focus on more stable currencies like DAI and promote the autonomy of the project with stakeholders.
  • For now, the medical facility is the only main achievement of the project; and is legally limited to offering nursing services which is already present in the public hospital. Hence, there is a risk that patients rather prefer to go to the public hospital by habit. Because health sector is sensitive as its legally prohibited to advertise, the project is expected to auto attract its stakeholders progressively.

1.4. The project outcomes

Table n°1: Anticipated impacts

Table n°2: Inputs, Activities and Expected Outputs

PART II: In practice: the project in the field

On Sunday 10th February 2019, was the official opening of the LucAS Centre. The ceremony was modest considering the social nature of the work that will be conducted there.

2.1. Organising the official opening event

During the previous days, as coordinator and responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the LucAS project, I had to make sure that the organization of the event was going well. In particular it was important to check the availability, the installation and good functioning of all equipment as there would be a demonstration for visitors on the opening day. Except few furniture that we ordered in Ouagadougou and sent to Houndé, all the big equipment was already in place weeks before. In collaboration with the medical staff we also advertised on the event by inviting the local communities, political and religious leaders. Indeed, the Priest of the Catholic Christian church was invited to conduct a prayer and a religious blessing of the place.

2.2. Proceedings of the event

The ceremony started at 10:00 with the session of prayer and religious blessing. Around 100 people were present. After this, the public was invited to visit the interior of the building and test the equipment. Some have been able to know their body mass index by measuring body weight and height. Others have also measured their blood pressure. The medical staff also explained the procedures that the patient must follow once at the clinic: first identify himself / herself at check-in / reception and pay the fees for the requested service (intermediate amounts for social purposes), then go to the consultation room, go to the pharmacy for possible purchase of drugs and finally go to the treatment room if necessary.

During the prayer with the priest
The religious blessing of premises
People visiting the premises
People measuring their weight and height to know their body mass index
Other people measuring their blood pressure
Maurice explaining the role of the dry heat sterilizer to visitors
Maurice explaining the role of the examination lamp to visitors
Maurice showing the consultation room to visitors
Maurice showing patients beds in the observation room

2.3. Configuration of the staff

For now, the staff is composed as follow:

  • 01 Project promoter (Economist, specialized international development cooperation)
  • 01 Coordinator (Retired anesthetist with 38 years of work experience)
  • 02 part-time nurses (Surgeons with approx. 15 years of experience each)
  • 01 volunteer (who just finished the nurse school)
  • 01 security guard

Below is a photo gallery of some staff members.

Achille, project promoter. Economist and Mid junior professional of International Development Cooperation. Crypto user.
Sophie, the coordinator of LucAS Centre. She is a retired anesthetist with 38 years of work experience as a nurse. She started worked at the Hounde centre with chirurgical unit between 1995 and 2016.
Maurice, the youngest of the staff. Native of Hounde, he is very dynamic and engaged, he just graduated from the national nurse school and currently volunteering at LucAS waiting to be appointed by the health Ministry.
Neya, the security guard. A hardworker always available to serve and to do any task. Neya wanted to work at the mining company but he finally decided to serve at the LucAS Centre.

Conclusion

In this article, we tried to demonstrate the digital transformation by considering the example of ‘LucAS health clinic’ in Burkina Faso. Indeed, this project was fully funded with crypto currency raised online in different philanthropic platforms. It took us 2 years to conceive the project, mobilise the funds and build the facilities. We faced challenges such as the convertibility of crypto currency locally and the administrative requirements prior to the effective opening of the Centre.

From now onwards, we will be monitoring the project functioning. We will continue to raise some funds with the aim to promote new projects in other social sectors. We also started to build partnerships with other charities worldwide.

Here is the end of a nice story that I have been pleased to share here.

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Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner

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Achille Sawadogo

Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner

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