Anamkungwi/ Village counselors from Masewe area in T/A Mwadzama are no longer perpetuators of home or TBA deliveries. Pregnant women are being identified at the early stages of their pregnancy and referred to the Task Force (TF) committees working in the area.
Alinafe which is a private health facility under Catholic Church is more than 10 km away. However, it has now become the best option of saving pregnant women and newborn babies from any dangers with the support from these village counselors. Pregnant women are able to start antenatal care (ANC) at the first trimester and maintain to receive other services as prescribed by health personnel.
In 2015, MaiKhanda Trust through Big Lottery Fund (BLF) project trained Task force (TF) and Women Group (WG) members from different Traditional Authorities (T/A) of Nkhotakota district including senior T/A Mwadzama. TFs and WGs are vital community structures established to make sure that all pregnant women are registered, attending all ANC visits, delivering at the health facility and observing home care practices.
For this to be done in Masewe area, TFs identify and register all pregnant women, visit them monthly and share MNH messages with them and conducting monthly village meetings whereas WGs meet every month to discuss MNH challenges facing the women during pregnancy in their community and solutions to deal with them. These platforms were created to engage every member of the community so that they can play their roles saving the lives of pregnant women and newborn babies.
Like many other villages, village counselors do play an important role of counseling women on issues as it is seen by the community custom and norms. It is believed that any woman who does not consult them like on the issues of reaching puberty stage and pregnancy does not qualify to associate with the community as they are regarded as children. When a woman conceives she must consult village counselors secretly on how to take care of herself and a baby expected.
Sometimes rituals take a centre stage. Since the establishment of TFs and WGs in Masewe, these counselors have now become members of the WGs that meet monthly discussing and spreading MNH issues. It is through these meetings where village counselors are empowered and guided to encourage pregnant women to get registered by TF committee, attending WG meeting and go for ANC as soon as possible. Village Counselors are more of supportive than enemies of MNH issues than before as they were encouraging pregnant women to be delivered TBA.
BLF project has helped to form 264 WGs, 67 WG Facilitators and 102 TFs that are working in three T/As of Mwadzama, Mphonde and Kafuzira. Working toward achieving SGD 3 “Good Health and Well-Being” this project is expected to benefit 27000 women of child bearing age and 17000 newborns by March 2018.