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Projects That Work: 2018 Winners

The sixth annual Projects That Work forum took place at the 2018 conference of The Network: Towards Unity for Health (TUFH), which was held August 16-20, 2018, in Limerick, Ireland. The competition showcased projects that had successfully addressed missions related to the 2018 conference theme, Community Empowerment for Health: A Multi-Sector Approach, for three years or longer. An open worldwide call resulted in 30 submissions from which five projects were selected by an international panel of 23 reviewers. One of the winning projects was deferred for presentation at the 2019 conference. Descriptions of the projects follow.

Posta Las Lilas: A Model of Integral Commitment to the Community

María de la Paz Grebe

The Posta Sanitaria Las Lilas (the Posta) began in 2007 as a project of Austral University, with a goal of improving the health of the underprivileged communities of Las Lilas and Monterrey. An interdisciplinary healthcare team has undertaken a long-term holistic strategy centered on education and health. Undergraduate and postgraduate students, residents, faculty members, nurses, physicians, and community members learn and work together. While the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences is responsible for the management and functioning of the Posta, many other organizations and university departments also contribute materials and volunteers. This year 45 workshops were run by 26 medical, psychology, and nursing students for 1,000 participants. Ninety management students visited 120 families to identify their problems and needs. The healthcare program includes internal medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, nursing, dermatology, child and adult ophthalmology, child dental care, psychology, social work, general surgery, cardiology, and imaging diagnosis, and a pharmacy provides free medications. Fifteen hundred families have received over 32,000 healthcare consultations over the course of the project.

Presenter: María de la Paz Grebe, Academic Secretary, Posta Sanitaria Las Lilas, Pilar, Argentina

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Barriguda Project: Promoting Maternal Health in a Quilombola Community

Reginaldo Antonio Oliveira Freitas, Jr.

This project was created to improve maternal and child health indicators of the Quilombola community, a black ethnic minority in Brazil who have been historically persecuted and excluded. The group faces great difficulties in accessing public health due to deep social inequalities and the predominantly rural/remote geographical location of their communities. The Barriguda Project was developed in the largest Quilombola community of Rio Grande do Norte State, where, in 2014, as an indicator of the poor quality of maternal health in this population, eclampsia reached 20% of pregnant women and the maternal mortality ratio was 223 deaths/100,000 live births. A community-based antenatal care service was implemented with a multiprofessional team (doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, and social worker). Meetings are held on a weekly basis and include health education actions, group dynamics, and relaxation techniques, as well as artistic and cultural activities. The team also counts on the participation of undergraduate students from the health professions. Since its inception, the project has followed a total of 52 pregnant women in the community and, to date, no new cases of eclampsia have been observed and no maternal deaths have occurred. Local satisfaction with the project is indicated by increasing participation in the activities and the ongoing involvement of local leaders in project management.

Presenter: Reginaldo Antonio Oliveira Freitas, Jr., Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Macaíba, Brazil

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Malaria Control System—GIS Based Software Technology Assistance for Effective Control of Malaria

Shantharam Baliga Bantwal

Malaria has been endemic in Mangaluru for the past 20 years. A Malaria Cell was created for surveillance and data processing as a public private partnership program in July 2003. But inconsistency in implementing anti-malarial programs, disconnect between health care providers, field workers and administrators, lack of accountability in the field, and poor manual harvesting and management of surveillance data resulted in increasing incidence of malaria. Beginning in 2014, this technology-driven project developed a suite of online software products to address these issues including: a GIS-powered mobile app for the field force for incidence reporting & monitoring; an online (web) app for healthcare providers to report incidences and submit statutory reports; and an online (web) app to analyze effectiveness, identify issues & defaulters, take administrative actions and to generate required reports. All stakeholders—city corporation field workers, executives and elected officials as well as health care provider employees—were trained on using the software. All users were connected by common workflows on a single platform, facilitating collaboration, thus motivating stakeholders and improving efficiency. Speed and accuracy of information flow improved. As a result operations became more streamlined and reliable. Since instituting the system, Mangaluru has recorded a 43% reduction in new cases of malaria over a one year period (October 2016 – October 2017).

Presenter: Shantharam Baliga Bantwal, Professor of Pediatrics, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, India

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Bridging the Atlantic: An International Alliance in Community Health among American and Azorean Nursing Students and Faculty

Maryellen D. Brisbois

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and University of the Azores (Sao Miguel Island) began this project in 2013 to create a sustainable international alliance in community health among American and Azorean nursing faculty and students by fostering professional relationships, enhancing cultural awareness, identifying health and health care roles from a global perspective, and exploring collaborative research opportunities. The target populations served by the project are Portuguese immigrants in the US and Azorean deportees who have been returned to the islands by the US. The project pairs undergraduate nursing students for short-term exchanges that allow students to bridge their clinical and didactic experiences, actively work in communities, and disseminate their work at local, national, and international conferences; seeing the impact from two distinct, but related countries. One of the key innovations was the creation of the IN-STEP guiding framework, which provides an organized approach to generate a sequence of outcomes for student exchange. In 2017, the project was expanded and replicated at a second site/island (Terceira, Azores) allowing for preliminary exploration of the impact of the US closure of Lajes Air Force base on the residents of Terceira. Early data shows increased unemployment and decrease in health services due to downsizing of hospital with related social determinants of health.

Presenter: Maryellen D. Brisbois, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, United States

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[last update: December 21, 2018]