Save the Mothers (STM) supports four health centres in Tanzania. We do this as a partner in the Mama Na Mtoto initiative. This effort is a collaboration between Canadian, Tanzanian, and Ugandan partners to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in rural Tanzania.
These Centres are in and around the district of Mwanza. We provide clinical mentorships and, with support from generous Canadians, we are able to implement our Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative model. STM’s Mother Baby Friendly initiative promotes community engagement and fosters platforms where health workers, leaders, and others in the community meet to discuss issues that can contribute to the reduction of maternal and child deaths. These activities promote community ownership of health facilities, engaged and motivated staff, and better service delivery. We are excited to report on the progress of these activities.
Thanks to funding by Crossroads’ Relief and Development Foundation, STM is supporting two construction projects for these hospitals. We are building an operating theatre to provide cesarean sections in Mbarika, and we have almost completed a new maternity ward at Nyamayinza. The local community is thrilled and hopeful that labouring mothers will have much more privacy than the old maternity ward afforded.
A few weeks ago, STM East Africa Director Dr. Miriam Mutabazi visited our Mother Baby Friendly Hospital initiatives in Tanzania. The purpose of her visit was to conduct a seminar and participate in community dialogues at the four Centres.
The primary objective of these dialogues was to engage the community, including health workers and the health facility to promote stronger links and collaboration.
In particular, there were discussions about the motivation and morale of health workers, which is a vital component of the MBFHI model. A central principle of the model is the understanding that motivated health workers are stronger contributors to maternal and child health services. So, much of the discussion focused on what motivates health workers and community health workers. There were many motivators identified. As you might imagine, reduced maternal and child mortality is a strong motivator for health workers. But respect, acceptance and trust from community members were cited as an essential factor for health workers to feel motivated too.
The dialogues and seminar were also used to encourage health workers that their work serves them as individuals, yet also serves families, communities, and the entire nation. They were invited to learn how their work leads to short-, mid- and long-term outcomes that will have long-lasting benefits for generations to come.
But Save the Mothers is just one cog in the wheel at these health facilities. The Mama na Mtoto initiative illustrates why working in partnership can be such a practical approach. Each partner and stakeholder brings their own strengths to the table. Together, we can accomplish much more. STM is no stranger to multidisciplinary work. The students of our Master’s in Public Health Leadership come from many disciplines, and each brings a unique knowledge base and sphere of influence. To make lasting, meaningful change, multidisciplinary professionals and practitioners must come together in communities. It is by working together that we can ensure that no mother or child dies due to pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.