Strengthening health systems and providing high-quality healthcare is not just about a nurse treating a sick child. When health centers are crumbling and basic equipment is missing, even the best medical crews feel powerless. What happens when night falls and the examination rooms are plunged into darkness? Or when there is no running water to clean and sterilize medical equipment? Providing quality healthcare to a community requires functional infrastructure, tools, and equipment. This is why one of the four components of the Integrated Primary Care Program aims to create safe spaces at government-run health centers. We build water towers, install solar panels, bolster infrastructure, and equip healthcare providers with the tools they need. By reinforcing the infrastructure, we build trust in the health system.
This January, Integrate Health completed the renovations of five health centers in the Kéran district. In 2023, Napotini, Pangouda, Nadoba, Warengo, and Kokou Temberma communities will enjoy freshly renovated and equipped health centers that will deliver the quality of care that they all deserve. Each facility required extensive renovations. The Kokou Temberma health center is a good example of how much work was needed.
The old Kokou Temberma health center
The Kokou Temberma health center used to be falling apart. With no renovations made since its construction in 1996, the health center experienced frequent power cuts and the absence of running water in the maternity ward, and it was lacking essential equipment to deliver the care the community needed. The existing solar panels were only powering the refrigerator where vaccines were stored. At night, the staff had no choice but to use the lights on their phones to carry out consultations. With defective water pipes, the medical staff had to carry buckets of water into the center from the community well.
When the Integrated Primary Care Program launched in the Kéran district, patients came in great numbers to seek care. The small waiting room couldn’t hold the higher number of patients, forcing people to find shade under a small tree outside while they waited their turn. The situation was dire for the Kokou Temberma health center. Its staff didn’t have confidence in the care they were providing, as they were lacking essential tools and equipment that they knew they needed. Staff reported feeling terrible welcoming patients in such conditions. This also made it hard for the community to trust their healthcare providers and the larger health system.
Meeting the needs of the staff and the community
In April 2022, Integrate Health, together with its partner Construction for Change, launched the Kokou Temberma health center rehabilitation project. The eight-month project was led by a Togolese woman project manager and employed all Togolese contractors. The project team reinforced the foundation, raised the ceiling, and completely rebuilt the roof, floor, and wall tiles.
The construction team built a water tower providing clean water in all rooms, installed solar panels supplying the whole building with electricity, and installed ceiling fans providing fresh and cool air to patients in the enlarged waiting room.
Kpandja Bassabi, Head Nurse at the Kokou Temberma health center, explains that he used to feel sorry for patients seeking care in such conditions. “We didn’t have the right equipment or enough space to properly care for our patients. But today I’m working in such a nice-looking building, it actually looks brand new. Even the district officers come by to take a look at the renovations and enjoy the new space. I’m grateful to Integrate Health for what they did for the Kokou Temberma community.”