Maternity Ward Restoration

  • Health
  • Women & Gender
  • Senegal
This project is led by Delaney Foley, a Volunteer from Massachusetts

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The Maternity Ward Restoration Project aims to provide a safe and clean facility for women to receive care throughout their pregnancies, deliveries, and post-natal recoveries. The new facility will also provide a venue to train community health workers and implement a new program for monitoring pregnant women throughout the first two years of their child’s life. The overall goal of the project is to increase the level of care provided to women along the entire continuum of care to contribute to the elimination of preventable maternal and child death. The construction work will involve removing the wall that currently separates the health post and the old maternity ward, building security walls around the old maternity ward, adding an emergency exit to the old maternity ward, the addition of a new room off the old maternity ward structure for deliveries, creating walking paths between the maternity ward and the new wall, creation of two public latrines and a hand washing station, restoration of plumbing in the old maternity ward structure, improvements to their airflow throughout the old maternity ward structure, creation of an outdoor shade structure for training events, and minor security upgrades to the windows and the main door of the old maternity ward. Community involvement will come in the form of donated time, labor, and materials, as well as a cash contribution. All members of the construction team are to be chosen by the Health Committee and will be residents of the catchment area served by the Health Post.

The community has been the driving force of the Maternity Ward Restoration Project since its inception. A 2018 community baseline survey of over 75 community members revealed improvements to the health facilities to be among the top three responses when asked about the pressing health needs facing the catchment area. The Health Committee and the local government have been leading the selection process of the construction team and identifying the most pressing improvements needing to be addressed for the structure. The health committee itself consists of the project leaders, while the Volunteer is responsible for connecting the community with a suitable funding source and managing the funds contributed by that partner throughout the project. The local government has pledged to fulfill the required cash contribution, while local business owners and workers have pledged to contribute materials and labor at a reduced rate, signifying the importance of the project to the community at large. Community involvement will come in the form of donated time, labor, and materials, as well as the cash contribution. The removal of the current wall between the old maternity ward structure and the health post structure will be accomplished entirely through donated community labor. Local shop owners have committed to reducing prices for several key building materials, including cement, iron, and gravel. The community will be donating all water and sand required for the project, while health post staff members have committed to donating their time to the development and training of twenty-five community health workers on the new pregnancy monitoring framework.

The repairs to the physical structure of the maternity ward are only one part of the vision of this project. More significant is the rejuvenated perspective on the role of the health facility and health workers that the project will bring. The renovations will provide a physical venue for the realization of an ever-present desire in the community to improve the health of the catchment area. Health education activities will help bridge the gap between the desire of community members to improve their health, and the desire of health workers to educate community members. With a location specifically designated for female health promotion and outreach, the community will be able to address the health priorities of its female and youth populations well beyond the service of the Volunteer. The implementation of the new pregnancy and early childhood monitoring program will be overseen primarily by community health worker elected leaders, the lead maternal care nurse, and the Health Committee. The program itself was developed through observation of previous local systems of monitoring and tailored to the realities of the community and the specific needs of women cared for by the health post. During the first six months of the program in particular, implementation of the program will be closely monitored to identify areas of weakness and need for further training or the need for alterations to be made to the system to meet community needs. Furthermore, the health post is already fully staffed. There is a lead general nurse, a lead maternal and child health nurse, three paid and educated nurses assistants, a pharmacist, a ticket seller, a security guard, an ambulance driver, and over forty unpaid community health workers. They have been enthusiastic about this project from the start and are excited to put the new maternity ward to use as soon as possible.

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