Afya Bora Project improves maternal and new-born health in Tanzania
Save the Children is implementing Afya Bora Project through integrated Reproductive and Child Health Program (Collaborating Health Promotion and Health Education Unit) in 10 targeted districts in Unguja and Pemba in Tanzania. The project aims to enhance collaboration between Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) to improve the maternal and new-born health. The project’s interventions including antenatal and post-natal care to pregnant women has played an important role in reducing avoidable maternal and child mortality rates in targeted areas
Rukia Abdul is 32 years old and lives with her husband in Upembani Village, Tanzania. She is a mother of five children. Rukia delivered her first four children at home with assistance from her mother, a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA). She then delivered her fifth child at Konde Primary Health Care Unit located 18 kilometres away from her house and which takes her about 30 minutes travelling by bus.
Rukia’s home delivery experience was exhausting, painful and left her very weak to the extent she was unable to take care of herself and her new-born. Unusual to her, she was confused to hear her mother advise her to deliver her fifth born in a hospital. It was the last thing she expected to hear from her mother since her mother was a highly respected TBA and had assisted her deliver all her other four babies. Rukia says, “All my previous deliveries took very long and were exhausting. For a full week, I was so weak and in a lot of pain. I was so grateful to my mom for taking me to the clinic, and was so pleased with the care I was given. I have realized the importance of facility delivery and will continue to advise my friends to deliver at health facilities,” explains Rukia. My baby Hamisa is now 2 months old, and weighs 4.8 kgs, she adds”
Afya Bora Project has helped in changing the community’s behaviour towards maternal and new-born health. The project started with mapping of Traditional Birth Attendants in all districts of Unguja and Pemba. A total of 1,452 TBAs were involved in the 36 orientation meetings conducted in 10 targeted districts. The meetings were used to create positive collaboration and working relationship between CHVs and TBA’s to increase the number of pregnant women being reached and educated on the Afya Bora program, Antenatal Care (ANC) services and the importance of hospital delivery.
‘‘The sensitization meetings have changed my life and I am not facilitating home deliveries any more but rather escorting pregnant women to health facilities for delivery. Seeing Rukia delivering at the clinic with assistance from a nurse and midwife, I have noticed significant difference on her health and that of the baby. After seeing, my daughter Rukia have a successful delivery, without complications, I knew it was the only way forward to save both mother and child’. Now when I am called to advice or help deliver babies, I advise them to deliver at the hospital,’’ Says Rukia’s Mother.
Save the Children’s Afya Bora project has yielded encouraging results. Kivunge Health Centre in North A, recorded a 28% increase of births (from 290 in May to 372 births in July). The Health Facility Workers in the Makunduchi Health Center of the South District also observed an increase of the total deliveries from 83 in May, 91 in June, 98 in July, and 115 in August