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WEZOU, the new national program to support pregnant women and newborns

Sep 28, 2021

Integrate Health is excited to announce the launch of a new initiative by the Ministry of Health to make healthcare free for pregnant women across Togo! The initiative, called “WEZOU”, increases access to healthcare for women by removing the cost of care for many services – a key barrier.

Mother and newborn from an Integrate Health-supported community.

What is WEZOU?

“WEZOU” means “Breath of Life” in Kabye, one of Togo’s local languages. WEZOU is a governmental program to ensure essential maternal healthcare is free for all pregnant women. WEZOU is a new approach by the Togolese Ministry of Health to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

How does WEZOU work?

When a woman confirms her pregnancy status at the health center, the midwife or nurse enrolls her on the digital WEZOU platform via their smartphone. She is assigned an identification number which she will use throughout her pregnancy and childbirth.

What is included in WEZOU?

The Togolese government is investing 3 billion Franc CFA (over 5 million USD) over a 1-year time period to ensure all pregnant women have access to essential maternal healthcare without financial hardship. The essential health package includes:

  • Four prenatal consultations including urine tests and iron-folic acid supplementation,
  • Provider fees, hospitalization costs, and basic commodities for uncomplicated deliveries, c-sections, and assisted vaginal deliveries,
  • Basic post-natal care
Mother and baby form an Integrate Health-supported community

There is a coverage limit of 14,265 FCFA (25.75 USD) for normal deliveries and 53,900 FCFA ($97.29) for c-sections and assisted vaginal deliveries. The full subsidization of these costs will significantly help thousands of Togolese families.

What is not currently included in WEZOU?

The package of services included in the WEZOU program is limited. While Integrate Health and the Ministry of Health initially proposed a much wider package of services, this was reduced due to funding constraints. Integrate Health will continue to advocate for an expansion of services to include treatment of maternal and neonatal sepsis, post-abortion case management, management of hypertensive disorders, emergency transport, prenatal labs, and ultrasounds.

Integrate Health’s role:

Integrate Health supported the Ministry of Health in the creation of WEZOU. In November 2020, the Ministry of Health asked Integrate Health, in partnership with the Financing Alliance for Health and with support from UNFPA, to facilitate the establishment of a package of essential maternal services and to estimate the costs associated with removing user fees. In December 2020, Integrate Health presented a number of scenarios to the Deputy Minister for Universal Health Access and other senior leaders in the Ministry of Health. Following the presentation, the Ministry of Health piloted an SMS-based system to enroll pregnant women and submit data for reimbursements at Integrate Health-supported sites to be used as a way to administer free maternal care on the ground. Now that WEZOU is launched, Integrate Health will work closely with Ministry counterparts on the district and regional levels to ensure its effective rollout to all women in Togo.

Integrate Health is thrilled to join the Ministry of Health as they take an important step towards achieving health for all.