SIGNIFICANT achievements have been made in reducing maternal and child mortality–especially those under the age of five.
The implementation of the Maternal and Child Survival Programme (MCSP), in Kagera Region plays a big role in improving the health of mother and child.
MCSP, a five-year programme, is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to increase coverage and utilisation of high-quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health interventions at all levels. About 70bn/-has been spent during MCSP implementation in the country.
How MCSP helps to improve health among children
Through MCSP, some residents, especially women, give testimonies on how the programme helped them to understand the importance of immunisation and the need to bring children to identified centres for the exercise.
Ms Veronica Eventi, a mother of four, from Bisole Village in Muhutwe Ward, Kagera Region, said her last born nearly missed vaccination due to ignorance.
“I had a quarrel with my husband at home. So, I moved from the house to my parents’ in a nearby village. I stayed there for a long time and I did not care about taking my child to hospital or any identified centre for immunisation,” she explained.
However, things improved after a community health worker, Ms Leonida Adolf, realised that she had not taken her child to hospital for immunisation. “Ms Adolf followed me at my parents’ home and explained to me that I was supposed to take my child to hospital or any nearby centre for immunisation.
She explained to me the importance of immunisation to a child below five years and I understood her,” said Ms Eventi. She noted that the community health worker introduced her to MCSP Programme and explained to her the importance of immunisation and other health services to children.
She said Ms Adolf came all the way to her parents’ home after learning that she was not attending clinic. “I was confused after a fight with my husban
d. I forgot everything about my child’s immunisation, but I thank Ms Adolf for looking for me. She cares a lot about women and children,” she noted.
Importance of immunisation
According to Ms Eventi, MCSP Programme enables women to understand the importance of immunisation to their children. The young woman spoke confidently that for any child to grow health, there was a need for parents to take him/her to the hospital or any identified centres for immunisation as scheduled.
“Today, I understand that immunisation helps to protect children from diseases, which used to attack them from time to time. As we speak right now…it has been long since I came to hospital for treatment.
My children are stable,” said Ms Eventi. She added: “I can confidently tell you that I am now playing a game of chances in taking care of children when it comes to health, as long as they receive vaccination as arranged.
I have nothing to fear because it’s not like before.” According to health experts, every vaccine dose is important for protection against infectious diseases attacking especially infants. Vaccinations can prevent more than a dozen of serious diseases.
Failing to vaccinate a child may mean putting him or her at risk of contracting fatal diseases. Infants are particularly vulnerable to infections. That is why it is so important to immunise them.
For her part, Ms Adolf said it came to her attention that Ms Eventi had not taken her child for vaccination after checking from the register. “We were trained how to make a follow-up on all mothers and children supposed to attend to hospital or identified centres for vaccination,” she said.
“From my register I realised that Ms Eventi has not taken her child for vaccination and she was not at home. After asking neighbours I was informed about her whereabouts.
So, I followed her and managed to bring her to hospital along with her child.” She said she was able to visit up to 10 households a day. “My job is to educate people about the importance of mother and child health,” she noted.
A registered nurse officer at St. Joseph Hospital Kagondo, Ms Pracidia Muganguzi, said health services had improved at the hospital thanks to the MCSP Project.
Ms Muganguzi works at the hospital where Ms Eventi and her child go for immunisation. She said through MCSP, nurses, community health workers and other health officers had been trained in how to deal with various issues related to mother and child health.
“We have been trained in how to prepare and administer a vaccine and make a follow-up on each child. This is very crucial and we are now capable of working in a systematic manner,” she explained.
Through training she said the hospital was able to monitor the quality of healthcare, especially child vaccination. “Generally, I can just say our immunisation services have been improved,” she noted.