Octavia Kakengela: Amref’s intervention has helped in reduction of newborn and maternal deaths in our village.
Friday, 29 October, 2021
Octavia Kakengela, is the in-charge health provider at Mwasamba dispensary in Busega District, in Simiyu region in Tanzania.
Mwasamba Dispensary is one of the facilities supported by Amref’s Uzazi Uzima (Kiswahili for “Safe Motherhood”) project, with financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. It benefited from the construction of a maternity ward, youth-friendly corner and infrastructure for water, sanitation and hygiene.
As the in-charge of the dispensary, he has overseen the initiation of the Uzazi Uzima project from its inception stage in 2017. He says that the project first started with building the capacity of the staff members at the health centre.
“They taught us how to provide emergency maternal services and youth related services,” he says.
He says Amref provided education to health care providers at the community level and the major aim was to reduce maternal and child deaths by providing education to pregnant women about the importance of attending pre- and post-natal clinics.
The project also built a new labour ward and a youth wing, which is dedicated specifically to serving the health needs of the young people mostly in their adolescent stages. According to Octavia, the construction of the maternal labour ward has helped to reduce maternal and newborn deaths because mothers used to delay to visit the clinic because there was only one building that provided health services.
As a result of the efforts by Amref’s Uzazi Uzima project, with financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, the number of mothers coming to the clinic at Mwasamba dispensary has increased from 10 to 15 to about 30 to 40 mothers per month.
“These mothers come with their partners and this is an indicator that we have succeeded 100% in emphasizing male involvement in escorting their partners to the dispensaries,” says Octavia.
The various trainings given to health care workers, such as training on Health Management Information Systems, essential newborn care, training on BEmONC and on CEmONC, built their capacity in raising more awareness in the community about safe motherhood practices. One of the points that health workers emphasize is for mothers to visit clinics and give birth there, instead of their home. Mothers are also advised to come back to the health facility after giving birth for post-natal care.
The health workers also teach family planning methods to community members, which Octavia says has helped clients in child spacing.
“We also provide nutrition education to our patients by encouraging them to breastfeed their newborn for the first six months and later on give them soft food,” he says.
Octavia says that Amref’s Uzazi Uzima project further provided the dispensary with water services including a water well and water tanks. The process of feeding water in the tanks is aided by use of solar energy to ensure that the dispensary has water all the time.
Octavia draws parallels before and after the project.
“Before the project, it was a must that every pregnant woman who came to give birth here must come with a water barrel because there was inadequate amount of water at the centre. This lack of water discouraged many women from delivering at the centre,” he says.
“We also collaborate with Community Health Workers at our dispensary, who do periodic door-to-door services where they visit pregnant women and check their progress, regarding severe abdominal pain or swollen legs. This means that once there is any complication, the CHWs carry out referral to the facility. The CHWs also received working tools, such as bicycles, coats and boots, and these helped to improve the work of the CHWs.”
However, while the health workers are appreciative of the work so far done by Amref’s Uzazi Uzima project, they say that they still face some challenges like limited number of health workers at the dispensary. Health workers feel that once they have a residential building near the dispensary, it will increase service delivery, including attending to emergencies as they arise.
These activities at Mwasamba Dispensary are part of the four-year Uzazi Uzima project, a partnership among Amref Health Africa and Marie Stopes, with Deloitte as a service partner. The Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, is supporting the project with $10.2 million