Octavia Kakengela, 38, is the in-charge health provider at the Mwasamba Dispensary in Busega District, in the Simiyu region of Tanzania.
Mwasamba Dispensary is one of the facilities supported by Amref’s Uzazi Uzima (Kiswahili for “Safe Deliveries”) 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 to provide specialized health services for young people and infrastructure for water, sanitation and hygiene.
As the in-charge of the dispensary, Octavia has been involved with the Uzazi Uzima project from its start 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 trained health care providers at the community level and provided education to pregnant women about the importance of attending pre- and post-natal clinics.
According to Octavia, the construction of the maternal labour ward has helped to reduce maternal and newborn deaths because mothers used to delay visiting the clinic because there was only one building that provided health services.
Newly constructed maternity ward
As a result of the efforts by Amref’s Uzazi Uzima project, 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, and emergency obstetric care, 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.
“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,” Octavia says.
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.
Photo by Adrian Mgaya, Amref Health Africa