World Vision project in Dodoma saves mothers, newborns lives

World Vision project in Dodoma saves mothers, newborns lives

IT has always been a usual matter in rural areas for pregnant women and girls to skip visiting health facilities. For them, this is not a big deal but the habit has escalated maternal and newborn deaths from across the villages countrywide. However, in Dodoma Region it is a different story.

Majority of pregnant women in rural areas are now attending usual clinics, reducing to greater extent maternal and newborn deaths, thanks to an ambitious project currently being undertaken by World Vision Tanzania (WVT). Dubbed ‘The Access - Infant and Maternal Health (AIM Health) programme, the five-year project is an initiative of World Vision Ireland supported by Irish Aid.

The project, currently being implemented in Bahi, Chemba and Kondoa districts comes as a blessing as initially, the number of home deliveries was high, risking maternal health to many women in rural areas, as well as triggering an increase in newborn deaths, according to medical officials in the districts.

A spot check by the `Daily News’ at different dispensaries and health centres found attendance of pregnant women to the health facilities for maternal health had almost doubled compared to when the project by WVT was yet to be rolled out in those districts, according to statistics availed by District Medical Officers.

In Bahi district for example, 25-year old Zainab Makasi, popularly known as Mama Aisha told the ‘Daily News’ during an interview that initially she never thought of going to health facilities as she was quite sure that she would deliver safely as it had always been in her community.

“But after the massive awareness campaign on the importance of attending clinics, many women are now attending health centres to get advice from medics so that by the time they go to deliver, they do not incur any complications,” says Ms Makasi, a mother of two daughters.

She added that even after delivering, many women were now taking their children to dispensaries and health centres to determine weight for their children and their health status in general, among other things. “We want to express our sincere gratitude to World Vision Tanzania for their kind support in provision of awareness campaigns and now more women are aware of the importance of attending clinics and of course they have so far been doing so,’’ says the Bahi resident.

Her story is not quite different from that of Joyce Mazengo from Zanka village in Bahi District who said she had a story to tell regarding the project because she was among the women who incurred complications when she delivered her first born to an extent that she almost lost her life.

“In our community before getting training sessions from WVT we used to deliver at home through traditional midwives, I remember I nearly died when I was delivering my son Andrew because initially I had no idea of what it means to go to health facilities,’’ she says.

The 38-year old mother of six children says with massive campaigns from WVT, many women are now opting for dispensaries and health centres as opposed to midwives, adding that even the number of maternal deaths had dropped significantly. Various studies show that the reasons for delivering at home include: abrupt occurrence of labour pain, long distance to the health facilities, lack of money to pay for transport and unfriendly experience with the health care providers, mothers’ education level, number of children, and lack of occupation.

Researchers in the health sector therefore suggest that there is a need for health care providers to enhance health education to women and their spouses about birth preparedness and the importance of delivering at the health facility. There is also a need for the government to increase the number of health facilities including maternity waiting homes and well trained health workers in both rural and urban areas.

Recently Tanzania secured concessional financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of 567.25 billion US dollars (about 1.3tril/-) through Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) to implement several development projects to mitigate impacts of Covid-19 pandemic with a lot of funding pumped to the health and education sectors.

According to the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Professor Abel Makubi, his ministry had already rolled out projects in the health sector after receiving 466.78bn/- about 34 per cent of the 1.3tri/-.

Prior to the WVT project, many women were delivering at home, something which was risking their lives and their newborn babies. It was against the backdrop of this problem that the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) saw the importance of initiating a promising project. World Vision Tanzania implemented AIM Health in Dodoma Region.

The initiative, according to the Project coordinator, Joseph Kilimba, represents World Vision’s continued collaboration with other partners to support the government’s broader plan towards significant reduction of maternal, under-five and infant mortalities by 2035.

“WVT devoted to even donating equipment at different health facilities in order to create a conducive environment that would attract more pregnant women to visit them comfortably and because of the services available the project has so far succeeded by 100 percent,’’ says Mr Kilimba.

According to the Project Coordinator, at the beginning of the project, the situation was not good as there was poor attendance at different health facilities where the project was being implemented. However, he says, after massive awareness campaigns the number of pregnant women started increasing.

“WVT will remain focused on seeing that upon completion of the project, all pregnant women and girls should be aware of the importance of attending clinics in order to receive health services at the community level,’’ he says.

According to him, the most important thing was to make sure that all women get to be aware of the project so that they are ready, including educating their spouses on the importance of frequent health check-ups as well as monitoring the health of their new born babies.

Immediately after kickingoff of the project, Mr Kilimba added, the focal point team of WVT provided training to health workers at the village level, so that they can replicate similar skills to pregnant women on the importance of attending clinics for an entire period during pregnancy, as well as train them on how they should treat their babies.

According to AIM Health project Manager, Mr Daud Gambo, the assessment indicates that the turnout of pregnant women in rural areas had increased significantly this is why the organization had intensified efforts to help more women and girls as well as newborn babies. “WVT is here because of helping the community in several issues that is why in many of our projects we have been focusing on rural areas,’’ says Mr Gambo.

The target, he said, was seeing that the five-year project is benefiting more women by ensuring that pregnant women are attending clinics to reduce maternal and newborn deaths. An assessment by the organisation has witnessed transformation taking place in communities as citizens, government leaders and officials at all levels and community at large take maternal and child health as a concern and take action to address it.

“Therefore WVT is impressed by findings of the evaluation notably on improved nutrition among children, clinic attendance and safe deliveries,’’ says Mr the project Manager. The project was also focusing on improving nutrition amongst children, and according to Dodoma Region Food and Nutritional Officer, Stella Kimambo, all health facilities in Dodoma had been insisting on best nutrition for children in order to avert malnutrition.

She said in collaboration with different stakeholders, health officials were ensuring that the advice on nutrition was being provided on a daily basis. “Our target is to see that all children in different communities from across the region are having food and nutrition security so that they can realize their dreams after completing their education,’’ says Ms Kimambo. Ms Kimambo however, said still, medical professionals had a lot to do to intensify massive campaigns on nutrition as well as convincing more pregnant women to attend clinics.

According to AIM Health Programme coordinator, WVT had equally been advising residents in areas where the project was being implemented to cultivate vegetables and other agricultural goods so as to ensure food and nutrition security.

“This project also aimed at intensifying the fight against malnutrition so as to have healthy babies and children as well as healthy pregnant mothers in order to reduce malnutrition and stunting rates in the country.

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