The local Health Post (HP) serves 7,300 people over a total of 56 villages. Despite such a large catchment, the HP has a single building and a single bed for mothers to give birth. This grant seeks to construct a small mother's shelter to increase capacity for taking care of expecting and new mothers. Such an expansion in infrastructure will allow the HP to house pre-natal mothers days before delivery, and keep new mothers on-site post delivery to address any complications that may present in mother or child. Importantly, this project began and remains entirely community-driven. The HP is home to a fiercely motivated clinic staff who have already organized community contributions of materials and volunteers to mold and fire 130,000 bricks. Local headmen have also been collecting monetary donations from community members totaling k10,000 in local currency thus far. Such an immense community buy-in is promising for the future sustainability of this project. We believe this expansion will bring expecting mothers to the clinic earlier to develop detailed birthing plans, as well as encourage mothers to give birth at the clinic rather than in their homes. These two behavior changes will drastically improve comfort, health, and readiness in new mothers; as well as decrease the number of sudden emergency cases that must be referred to the nearest town hospital.
In seeing the community's dedication and seriousness about meeting their own health needs, the volunteer decided to assist the community to secure more funds to ensure that their efforts are immortalized in a building that would be built to the local district health office (DHO) standards. Once the volunteer was brought on-board, the clinic organized a meeting with the DHO to secure official building plans for a Mother's Shelter, and began building a budget with the help of a building company in the town nearby. Once these plans were acquired, the clinic began constructing the building foundation using cement purchased with community donations. In terms of materials, though, we have a long way to go. In addition to community support for this mother's shelter, the HP and the PCV have begun a monthly training series to ensure that the clinic has the capacity to to handle an expansion. By training new Safe-Motherhood Action Group (SMAG) volunteers, we are ensuring that all community members will be educated on the importance of giving birth at the clinic, and can be provided valuable complementary health information during their time at our new facility.
By communicating with and building based on the local DHO guidelines, the local HP will create a clinic building that the DHO will recognize, maintain, and be able to assist with in the future when funds are available. Because the building is built to code, repairs and maintenance will be within the DHO's capability. That said, certain construction materials were replaced for less-expensive and more locally-available materials. For example instead of floor tiles, we are using a locally-available long-life resin to build the floor; and instead of cement bricks, we have molded bricks using only local resources. Not only does this cut unnecessary cost, but it makes repairing the building in the future more accessible to the community.