Improving maternal and new-born health in Sudan through community referral networks

Community health worker in Sudan
A World Vision community health volunteer in South Darfur trains new mothers on best practices for improved child health and nutrition.
Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Most women in rural villages in Sudan rely on traditional birth attendants to deliver their babies. This is not always safe or hygienic.

In 2022, to improve maternal and newborn health, World Vision Sudan worked with traditional birth attendants in South Darfur to conduct safe deliveries and promote hygienic practices.

110 traditional birth attendants from seven villages were trained by World Vision nurses to support pregnant women by conducting home visits to follow up on expectant women and refer them to health facilities to attend at least four ante-natal care visits.

One of the women supported to deliver safely in a health facility is 27-year-old Tayseer Edris. Tayseer delivered at Sandliba Health Center in June 2022 after counselling and referral from a traditional birth attendant.

“This was not my first pregnancy. My first two pregnancies were  at home as I wasn't aware of the risks of giving birth at home. I lost both children from my first pregnancies,” says Tayseer.

During one of the timed and targeting counselling sessions by the traditional birth attendant, Tayseer got to learn more about the risks of home delivery and she was referred to a clinic due to her developing severe back-pain, one of the danger signs the community health volunteers are trained to be on the lookout for. Tayseer was convinced to attend ante-natal care clinics and safely delivered a baby boy at Sanidilba Health Clinic.

“I am grateful to the community health volunteers who ensured I had a safe delivery and my third child survived. I now promote hospital deliveries and I’ve been encouraging my pregnant neighbours to visit health facilities for check-ups,” said Tayseer.

Sixty-year-old Hawa Mustafa Mohammed is one of the trained birth attendants from Katyla locality. According to Hawa, many pregnant women never visited health facilities for regular follow up and there were many complications during home births. But now, with traditional birth attendants encouraging pregnant women to visit health facilities, more children have been safely delivered.

“The referral system has been a big success because we know the women in the villages and they trust us. We have been able to refer a lot of women to attend antenatal clinics and deliver in health facilities to reduce complications,” says Hawa.

The traditional birth attendant network in Katyla locality has referred 1,300 women for follow up and a total of 234 safe deliveries have been recorded in health facilities in the area.