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Local Health Leaders Empowered with USAID Support

For years, the J. Balkhi Healthy Lifestyle Center struggled to provide Tajikistan's J.Balkhi District, Khatlon, with services to improve health behavior in the community. It lacked the resources it needed: internet, information technology equipment, behavior change and health education materials, and trained personnel. The director, Dr. Davlatali Gafurov, a family doctor with 20 years of experience in in the district, and two employees are responsible for the entire district’s population of 216,308 people.

But in January 2021, the Abt-led, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby (HMHB) Activity started to support the center, providing smart phones, tablets, internet, and outreach materials. HMHB also helps ensure Gafurov and his staff receive training in global best practices for community health and nutrition.

Now Gafurov and his team are better able to accomplish their mission:

  • Conducting social behavior change communication campaigns to raise awareness about prevention of infectious diseases
  • Improving the nutrition status of children under five
  • Collecting data to monitor health outcomes
  • Encouraging COVID-19 vaccination, prevention, and care.

The introduction of digital tablets has enabled Gafurov to monitor health worker activities and better measure intended behavior change intervention impacts. With the technology and internet USAID provided and Abt’s technical assistance, he can efficiently upload data, which flows into a centralized system. This helps him track the district’s progress and compare it with other districts.

During a recent HMHB training session that Abt led, Gafurov joined colleagues from other districts and regions to discuss their challenges and consider solutions. The training improved Gafurov’s confidence. He felt less alone. And he was inspired to engage the community where they were to improve services from his Healthy Lifestyle Center:

“The first thing I did was develop a new work plan for the Healthy Lifestyle Center,” said Gafurov. “I ensured that primary health centers, the local government, and the Healthy Lifestyle Center work together in its implementation. I determined that my center should serve as a model for healthy behaviors, and that my staff and I can work together to prevent diseases and promote healthy nutrition to improve the quality of life in our community.”

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