Let us call this baby “James” for the sake of this report. A few minutes’ walk east from Namikango Mission James was born when his mother was on her way to Namikango Maternity Clinic. She walked a distance, but it was too late for her. When she couldn’t walk anymore, she spotted an outdoor bathroom, and squeezed herself in. This would have to be the place where James would come into the world. Some female witnesses in the area rushed in to help her. Her healthy little boy was born in no time at all.
The story of James’s mother could spark a hot debate. Maybe the woman didn’t leave home soon enough. Others might argue that it was too long a long journey for a pregnant woman to walk to begin with. Whatever one might say, this case is hardly unusual. Another woman on the very same day delivered a child on her way to the clinic. She was trying to walk from her home, over seven miles away up in the hills, but ran out of time. Thanks to some nearby bushy trees and rocks a makeshift delivery bed was created. But her escort had to deliver the child without the protection of gloves.
These examples demonstrate the big challenge that maternal healthcare in Malawi faces. With the government’s ban on Village Traditional Birth Attendants (TBS’s) not to practice, all pregnant women are supposed to visit health care facilities like Namikango for safe delivery. This has presented problems such as transportation to maternal health facilities, inadequate health personnel, and insufficient equipment and supplies. Ambulances to ferry such women as James’s mother to the clinic are woefully lacking compared to the demand.
The introduction of Service Agreements between Government of Malawi and health care facilities like Namikango Maternity clinic—which allows for free treatment of all maternal cases— has done much to reduce maternal-related deaths. But the greater numbers of women coming to clinics and hospitals has increased the pressure on staff, equipment, and medical supplies on the existing facilities. Ambulances are in very short supply.
The donation of a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) to the clinic by the Malawi Project has provided a sigh of relief. Its maximum loading capacity of half a ton allows it to carry up to six people in its wooden body. The vehicle will be used as a community Ambulance, providing a fast and reliable means of transport for pregnant women to the clinic. This will, without a doubt, reduce maternal deaths, since many of these tragedies result from delayed arrival by mothers in labor to our clinic.
Besides providing a mode of transport to pregnant women to the clinic, the BUV was designed to be used in transporting a variety of goods within a community. Corn, corn flour, and other farm produce can be easily transported.
The coming of the vehicle will save the lives of both mothers and babies who represent the future of this country. We expect the BUV to leave a big mark on Malawian soil. Namikango Maternity Clinic is proud to have already put its vehicle to use!
Pictured is an ox cart. This is the way most people get to a hospital in the rural areas of Malawi. The other picture shoes the BUV being used to transport medical supplies
WILSON ISAAC TEMBO
For: NAMIKANGO MISSION-MALAWI.