In Mozambique, where maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world, the support of Australians who purchase health-related gifts through World Vision’s gift catalogue is helping to prevent needless deaths and improve the health of mothers and babies.
In recent years, Smiles funding has contributed to the extension and renovation of the Banhine maternal and child health centre and services in Mozambique, providing not only a waiting house for expectant mothers, but an extra nurse, training and equipment for pre- and post-natal treatment. Celeste, a mother of three, says she gave birth to her first child “on the street” and her second at home, and experienced complications without medical assistance. Recently, however, she gave birth to her third child at the Banhine clinic.
“The experience at home, I had no assistance or the nurse and I could lose the child, but at hospital it was fine, because I was in shelter, a place where I was protected, with nurse and bed where I felt comfortable,” Celeste says.
Women in remote villages may live some distance from the clinic, and without access to emergency transport during labour they are unable to reach the clinic in time to deliver safely. As Sidra, a maternal and child health nurse at the Banhine clinic says, “The main challenge is transport. They don’t have any transport.” To combat this problem, the clinic now has a waiting house, so that women can travel to the clinic during their ninth month of pregnancy and wait to deliver their child.
As well as the new waiting house and equipment, a key focus of World Vision’s maternal and child health activities in Mozambique is raising community awareness of the benefits of delivering babies at the clinic where there are skilled staff. A network of community health volunteers, funded by the World Vision gift catalogue and trained by World Vision and the Ministry of Health, encourages women to access ante-natal care and to attend the clinic when they deliver.
Margy Dowling, World Vision Country Program Coordinator for Mozambique, says, “Encouraging women to go to the clinic means a skilled professional will be able to deliver their baby and this is essential to reducing maternal mortality, as most deaths occur around delivery.” Sidra herself plays a role in this, saying, “I always explain and tell mothers. I sometimes go on sensitisation campaigns...telling them that the best place where they can deliver babies is at the clinic.”
Since the Banhine clinic was fitted with new equipment and community health volunteers have raised awareness of the services available, 11,000 people in neighbouring villages have had access to better healthcare. Sidra is grateful for the support of Australians, who purchased gifts that contributed to the new services, training and equipment. “Everything that is there is thanks to the Australian people and their support,” Sidra says.