Story of Change: People Can Change, hear Paulina’s experiences

Born in the village of Zagayu in Itilima district, Tanzania, Paulina Boniface Dotto, 53, has been working with the Uzazi Uzima (Kiswahili for “Safe Deliveries”) project implemented by Amref Health Africa. She devotes her time to promoting the value and importance of antenatal care services (ANC). Paulina started working as traditional birth attendant and she was later trained to become an active Community Health Worker (CHW) in her village. 

Zagayu Centre is one of the health facilities supported by the Uzazi Uzima project. Through the project, attendance of ANC visits as well as deliveries at the facility have increased. For example, between July and September 2020 about 221 women attended and completed ANC visits at the health facility, compared to 13 women between July and September 2019. 

Paulina’s success in increasing the attendance at the health facility’s antenatal care clinic was not easy; she experienced a number of obstacles along the way. One of the biggest challenges was misconceptions that community members had about ANC visits. As a trained CHW, she deliberately decided to start her work by visiting each pregnant woman in her area, covering the entire 74 households she was assigned to. She played a big role in raising awareness in the community to understand the importance of ANC visits. Among her tasks was to encourage male involvement during the ANC services.   

Paulina proudly shares her experience and milestones. For example, in a period of one month, she refers nearly 12 to 13 pregnant women to the health facility for ANC. As a trained CHW, Paulina keeps records of all clients either referred or escorted to the health facility. 

Paulina believes that community sensitization is very crucial as there are still some instances where misconception about ANC visits has prevented women from attending the services. Paulina strongly advises conducting more outreach services and sensitization to the hard-to-reach areas as a critical strategy to ensure community members understand and see the importance of the ANC.