Moussa Sene is a community health worker from Niakhip village, Senegal. Image and case study credit: Malaria No More.

Moussa, 21 is a student and farmer. In his spare time he volunteers with a programme that is helping to end malaria deaths in Senegal. For many people living in remote villages, the nearest health facilities may be miles away. When sick, and travelling on foot, the journey can take days and the delay in treatment can be deadly. Armed with a toolbox that includes rapid diagnostic tests and medicines to treat those who test positive, Community Health Workers can provide fast and free care to their sick neighbours without ever having to leave the village. As well as malaria, Community Health Workers treat other major killers of children like pneumonia and diarrhoea. Moussa is proud to be making a different in his community. He says “I’m very happy to help my neighbour, because we are of the same blood”

At the Women Deliver conference in 2013, Save the Children interviewed Senegal’s Minister of Health Dr. Awa Coll-Seck who argued that health workers are essential for reaching the health MDGs. Watch the interview here.

Neonatal mortality rate  (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 26
Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 65
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) (2010) 370
Number of doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people (2010) 4.8
Births attended by skilled personnel (2011) 65.1%
Total expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (2011) 6%
General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure on health (2011) 58.3%

Around 20% of the Senegalese population is covered through the compulsory health insurance scheme for formal sector workers or through private health insurance, mainly in the form of “mutuelles”. Medical services are available free of charge in public facilities. Out-of-pocket expenditure, mainly for medicines and for private services, accounts for 34% of the national health expenditure. A compulsory universal insurance scheme, a priority for the President of the Republic, is in the process of being created, as a strategy for improving equity in access to health services.

Senegal has made progress towards achieving MDG4 and maternal mortality rates have been reduced, but MDG5 is unlikely to be achieved. 65% of births were attended by skilled health personnel between 2005 and 2012, but there are important variations according to place of residence, economic status and educational level. The National Health Plan 2009-2018 recognizes that measures are needed to tackle the scarcity of health personnel and disparities in distribution across regions, by increasing training capacity at national level and adopting measures to promote workforce retention.

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