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Vital Stories

Community Health Workers in Tanzania: On the Frontlines of Improving Maternal Health (Part II)

A Woman reading maternal health poster at Nyenge Dispensary at Kasulu District

This is a series of first-person anecdotes from Vital Strategies Community Health Workers (CHWs) working on the ground to improve maternal health in Tanzania. Women in Tanzania face a 1 in 38 risk of dying from complications during pregnancy and childbirth; these advocates work every day to improve much-needed maternal care for Tanzanians, disseminating important health information and encouraging expectant mothers to access services at rural health centres.

CHW Name: Tereza Dyamvunye
Reporting from: Kasulu Hospital

Challenges you’ve recently faced: A woman came to [be] checked for her pregnancy, alone. She was asked to bring her husband. She went and came back with the motorcycle (boda boda) driver, claiming to be her husband. After being diagnosed, he was found [to be] HIV positive. He cried loudly blaming the woman for bringing [him into] the hospital, as he was not ready to be diagnosed [with] HIV. We then discovered that the man was not the woman’s husband.

Successes you’ve encountered:
I went to a village called Mhanga, [where] there is no dispensary or health center or traditional midwife nurse. Women give birth in their homes. I also went to another village named Waleha, where women [also] give birth in their homes. I managed to talk to 25 pregnant women in Mhanga Village and 5 pregnant women in Waleha village. I advised them to prepare in advance, and go to the district hospital, which is 25 km from the villages. I encouraged all of them to get near to the hospital or health center during the 9th month of their pregnancies. I [recently] managed to take a pregnant woman to Kasulu Hospial. She gave birth to a male child. I encouraged another woman to get near the hospital when her pregnancy reaches 9 months. I managed to talk to her husband, who agreed but requested me to host them; I told them to stay at the hospital since they are not charged for staying there.

Before [our] campaign in Kiganamo Health Center, 8-10 pregnant women [gave] birth there, In November 2014, they received 15 pregnant women.

CHW Name:Upendo Reuben
Reporting from:Maweni Hospital

Challenges you’ve recently faced: Death due to home delivery. I managed to visit a certain home and talked to a pregnant woman. I observed dangerous symptoms. She was preparing to give birth there at home. I advised her to go to a health center and she was negative [about] services provided in health centers. She at last agreed to go to the hospital next day. Unfortunately labor pain [increased] the same night. She was rushed to the health center that night. She died when giving birth and left a baby. Her name was Magreth Paschal; she was staying at Mwanga Majengo Area, not far from the Health Center.

Successes you’ve encountered:
While on my duty, I met a certain pregnant woman who was abandoned by her husband’s family. After she started [exhibiting] dangerous signs, I advised her son to take her to the hospital. It was later found that a child was not properly positioned in the womb. She was properly consulted. She thanked me so much, and advised me to keep on educating women.