What We DoEngaging health institutions and communities in creating a healthy and safe environment for maternal child health care and development.
The goal of the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project is to reduce maternal mortality through women’s empowerment. This means challenging the dynamics of power relationships, particularly women’s inequality, both within the health system and community.
Building leadership teams
We’re building leadership teams in 20 rural communities in 5 provinces of the province of Inhambane. The teams work with the project to increase understanding in their community about how to improve maternal, reproductive and sexual health for women. Topics cover social conditions and family practices – topics that are sensitive, so our Mozambican team must work respectfully with the partner communities. The communities are selected in collaboration with local authorities. The teams are composed of about 30 people–15 women and 15 men–and work with the project to improve health and social conditions.
Community engagement for women’s empowerment
Activities begin with community mapping to identify local resources. Teams prioritize topics for local participation-based education about maternal, reproductive and sexual health. The teams also prioritize microenterprises to engage community members, especially women, and improve their incomes. Finally, the teams participate in creating a community-based network of resources to support women in childbirth.
Providing community-based education
We will develop and provide education to community members on maternal, reproductive and sexual health. Our methods are participatory and engaging, based on adult learning principles. We include both attitude and knowledge components. Topics will include gender rights, using resources developed at the Massinga Centre, including manuals on gender equality, community participation and facilitation. Some educational activities are for adolescent girls, both in schools and in the community.
A network of community-based resources to support women in childbirth
It is said it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to support a woman to have safe childbirth. For rural women, reaching health services for deliveries without undue delay can be a problem. They are often far from a clinic, and without means of transport. Our project will provide local ambulances. We will also provide maternal waiting homes close to clinics. Most important, we will support local midwives to improve their ability to support women in reaching health services without undue delay. We will work with community-based health workers to create an ongoing updated list of pregnant women and plan support strategies in advance.
Collecting women’s stories
We are collecting women’s stories about their maternal experiences. Participants will be women from the rural communities where the project is working. The activity is intended both to engage the participation of women as well as to learn more about their lives and issues.
Improving health services
We are providing education to health practitioners in clinics and hospitals about improving care for deliveries and newborns, but also for reproductive and sexual health issues. Some topics will focus on technical skills and others on attitudes.
We are also providing support for two Training Centres in the province to graduate additional maternal and child health nurses.
To contribute to overall health system quality, we are working with the management of the provincial health department to provide training on topics such as leadership, conflict resolution, and data collection and analysis. With the managers, we are exploring the feasibility of using near-miss methodology to improve practice.
Finally, we are supporting the system’s resources, supplying new equipment and ambulances as well as improving the physical infrastructure of clinics and waiting homes.
We are studying the effects of waiting homes, collecting stories about women’s maternal experiences, and exploring the feasibility of using near-miss methodology to improve practice.
We are disseminating information locally, nationally in Mozambique and internationally as appropriate. We do this through our website, through distributing printed documents, and through interaction in communities, workshops, seminars, conferences and policy dialogues.