How G-ANC improves efficiency in women giving birth in Geita

GEITA: GROUP Antenatal Care (G-ANC), through which women with pregnancies of similar gestational age (GA) convene for health care service has improved clinic attendance from 49 per cent in 2022 to over 90 per cent in April, 2024.

Such a remarkable stage has been reached through the Mlinde Mama Proj- ect that is implemented in Chato and Geita Coun- cils of Geita Region by the Tanzanian government and the non-government Health Initiative Tanzania (PHIT) with funding worth $500,000 from Bill and Me- linda Gates Foundation and only to fight maternal mor- bidity and mortality.

Shedding light on that Geita Regional Reproduc- tive and Child Health Co- ordinator (RRCHCo), Mr Daniel Sinda said that the main target of the (2022- 2024) project, which is op- erating in six selected health facilities in the region, is to improve maternal health.

This has been mostly fuelled by the fact that in Tanzania, although the ma- jority of women do attend at least one Antenatal Care (ANC) visit at 90 percent, only 61 percent attend at least four visits against the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that every woman attends at least eight contacts.

As the starting point, ‘Mlinde Mama’ has been providing training and equipping at least 30 health- care providers, including four medical doctors and 26 nurses, with the skills and tools needed to deliver quality maternal healthcare services.

It has also provided digital tablets for data docu- mentation, as well as essen- tial supplies such as digital weighing scales, BP ma- chines, and thermometers, enabling providers to con- duct peer-to-peer assess- ments of vital signs during ANC clinics.

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Such an innovative ap- proach not only lightens the workload to the health personnel, but also ensures more accurate and efficient assessments of pregnant mothers’ health status.

Furthermore, the proj- ect’s collaboration with regional authorities and engagement of the private sector has addressed short- ages of essential commodi- ties, ensuring uninterrupted service delivery.

The RRCHCo explained further that the women with pregnancies of similar GA are forming the groups of between eight to 15 mem- bers for ANC services and knowledge sharing.

They are taught on, among others, the impor- tance of clinic attending, parenting and child up- bringing, nutrition issues, danger signs to a pregnant and what should the moth- er do, as well as the real meaning of giving birth at a health centre.

Under the supervision of healthcare providers (HCPs), G-ANC members have also been trained on how to go for self service, using the given BP and weighing machines.

“High blood pressure is among indicators for preg- nancy epilepsy. So, the tests help the victims to have in time medical service, with service providers going for close monitoring to a moth- er until the baby is out,” he recently told the Daily News. So far, more than 5,000 pregnant mothers have been covered through over 180 groups, he said, assur- ing that: “No any maternal death has been reported since the project’s incep- tion to those who have been attending clinic sessions through G-ANC.”

Instead, there is an in- crease to pregnant mothers who practiced blood count at-least twice throughout their pregnancies; who had syphilis test as well as who had essential drugs, includ- ing mabendazole. Good enough, he added, all pregnant mothers in G- ANC do get birth at health centers, affirming that: “the Mlinde Mama is also on an installation of the digital system with ability to detect the mother at risk to have BP complications during the pregnancy.”

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Some expectant moth- ers, including Ms Ester Isa- ya, commended the project that embraces community engagement, only to pro- vide the beneficiaries with various skills, mostly the use of some digital ma- chines for self health tests.

According to her, the G- ANC members are also able to conduct the roll-call and perfectly fill the attendance document, though under the facilitation of HCPs.

At the same time, the involvement of spouses in clinic visits has witnessed a significant uptick, high- lighting the project’s suc- cess in fostering community support and involvement in maternal healthcare.

Again, provision of dig- ital tablets has streamlined data entry processes, en- suring timely and accurate documentation of health- care interactions.

Furthermore, train- ing sessions for Council Health Management Team (CHMTs) and Regional Health Management Team (RHMTs) have enhanced the management of Unified Community System (UCS) further strengthening the healthcare infrastructure at the community level. Some details that have been made available by PHIT stated that ‘Mlinde Mama Project’s holistic ap- proach to maternal health- care has yielded trans- formative outcomes for providers, pregnant moth- ers, and community health workers alike.

By investing in train- ing, provision of essential supplies, and innovative strategies, the project has not only improved mater- nal health outcomes but has also empowered communi- ties to take charge of their own well-being. “As we celebrate these achievements, let us con- tinue to prioritize initia- tives that promote maternal health and ensure that every mother receives the care and support she deserves throughout her pregnancy journey,” read part of PHIT details.

It was further recom- mended that findings from the implementation of the project support a scale-up of G-ANC model in other regions as an approach to completing the number of visits recommended by the WHO, as well as improv- ing the quality of ANC and facility-based delivery.

The success of GANC shares the potential for in- novative service delivery models to positively im- pact maternal and neona- tal health outcomes, high- lighting the importance of continued exploration and adoption of evidence-based approaches in maternal healthcare provision.

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