This is Marieme Sy who lives in a village called Wolloum Hattar in the District of Mbagne. Like many other women in her community, this mother of two had no choice but to give birth to her two children in the village without any medical assistance. Local women had to go to the district of Bagodine (15 km) and sometimes to the regional capital Kaedi (35 km) to safely deliver because there was no health facility in their village. They used to endure unimaginable pains and suffering before getting to their destination. Many cases of both mother and infant mortality took place in the village due to this delicate situation. “Pregnant women were facing many difficulties in the village. For lack of a health facility, they were obliged to go to Bagodine or Kaedi to safely deliver their babies. Many others had to deliver in the village without the presence of qualified health personnel and some of them lost their new born infant because of that. Moreover, women were not aware of the importance of medical consultations before delivery which aggravated their conditions,” Said the local community health worker in Wolloum Hattar, Aissata Kane.
To tackle this challenge, World Vision Mauritania established the AIM/HEALTH project in 2012, with the support of World Vision Ireland and Irish Aid. The primary objective of this project is the reduction of infant and maternal mortality and preventing child’s malnutrition. The areas of intervention are the districts of Mbagne and Guerou in the Brakna and the Assaba regions respectively. 20 community health units (CHU) were installed in 20 villages both in Guerou and Mbagne. The project also put in place Community Health Workers (CHW) at the local level along with community relays. These people were trained by the project in order to provide assistance to pregnant and breastfeeding women and to encourage them to use the health facilities.
The project further supports local women in the fight against children’s malnutrition by establishing a nutritional rehabilitation hearth. The project provides them with fortified flour during the lean season to prepare meals with the help of the community worker and the relays. “Thanks to the AIM/HEALTH project, a community health worker assisted by 2 community relays was set in place to provide immediate assistance to pregnant women. The two relays and I support the nutritional rehabilitation hearth,” continues Aissata proudly. “The rate of severely malnourished children is very low and the rare cases are sent with their mothers to the nearest health facility for treatment. Their weights are kept under constant monitoring and being checked every 15 days for any change. Pregnant women are regularly educated on the importance of going to a health facility and continuing medical consultations until delivery and even beyond that. They were also educated on the importance of hygiene and several households received mosquito nets for the well-being of their children.”
The project is particularly focusing on community based health, which means that the local community plays a crucial role in this intervention. The continuity of the medical visits before and after delivery is at the heart of the education activities received by pregnant women. “Now, pregnant women are no longer obliged to go all the way to Bagodine or Kaedi in order to deliver safely,” said Marieme with a great sense of relief. “Thanks to this project, we now have a community health worker and two relays who are from the village, which take care of us and assist us until the delivery. We are also educated on family planning and the necessity of seeking medical consultation before giving birth for our sake and that of the child. Some of the children were very weak; so with the help of the community health worker and the community relays, we prepare common meals for their well-being. All this would not be possible without the appreciated intervention of World Vision Mauritania.”
Now, Marieme and the other women in the village are aware of the necessity of getting consultations in a health facility during and after their pregnancy. She also knows that the new born child must be vaccinated upon his or her birth. 12 local health units out of 20 benefitted from donkey cars as transportation means to evacuate pregnant and lactating women in case of an emergency and also the children who need vaccines. In addition to this, the project also supported the installment of water towers and solar panels in the health posts to ensure light and a sanitary environment for nocturnal deliveries. The lack of medication is also covered by the project which also ensures training for the local health personnel.
Written by Ibrahima Diallo