FOR a long time, residents in Tunduru district in Ruvuma Region have been accessing poor maternal and child healthcare, a factor that has contributed to an increase in child mortality rate.
To control the situation, Anglican Diocese of Masasi has thrown its weight into finding a solution to the chronic problem, thanks to the All Mothers and Children Count projects (AMCC), an initiative that aims at improving the situation and saving the lives of mothers and children.
To bring back the smile to the communities in Tunduru, AMCC looked for sponsorship from different sources before the Canadian, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) decided to join the government efforts to rectify the situation.
To create favorable environment for provision for health services 12 public health centres have been fitted with solar power of which eleven are in Tunduru district.
To ensure sustainability and commitment to support government efforts in reduction of maternal and child death, All Mothers Children Count (AMCC) Projects is planning to spend 8.9bn/- to cater for 145,341 beneficiaries in Ruvuma region by 2020.
The four -year initiative which started in 2016 is being coordinated by Anglican Church, Masasi Diocese with special focus on improving health centre infrastructure, awareness, nutrition, availability of clean and safe drinking water among others.
AMCC Project Manager, Padre Linus Buriani said their focus is in rural areas where majority of people are in need of improved health services. Padre Buriani named the health centers which benefitted from solar power as Semeni, Mwenge, Makande, Kazamoyo, Naikula, Misechela, Mkowela, Mindu, Liwangula, Ngapa, Tinginya and Nanganga.
“We are now focusing on construction of 25 wells in Tunduru and Masasi districts whereas more than 117.8m/- has been set aside for the undertaking,” he said.
According to Padre Buriani, the health sector was facing some challenges including outdated infrastructures in health centers, especially the roofing, calling for joint efforts to ensure they are rehabilitated to the required standard.
Ha added that AMCC was impressed by the devotion and dedication displayed by the locals in the respective areas after they offered their manpower in support for the implementation of the initiative.
Tunduru district authorities also received a pat on their back for offering them all the needed support to accomplish their mission. The health centres fitted with solar power also received beds and medicines for pregnant women from AMCC.
“The communities here have never let us down, they are available whenever needed, thus making it easy for the projects to run as planned” said Padre Buriani. However, he called upon the government to look for means to set up dispensaries in areas earmarked for the projects but have none, thus missing the opportunities.
“We, at AMCC, recognise the efforts being made by the Tunduru District Commissioner, Mr Juma Homera to improve health sector. He has been at the forefront to ensure that all villages covered by the projects have all the needed health facilities” remarked Padre Buriani.
Apart from installing solar power system in the health centres, other 73 heath facilities were also availed with delivery beds and medicines, of which 67 are in Tunduru district. Some of the residents interviewed, apart from thanking the sponsors, expressed sincere appreciations to Padre Buriani for ending their long standing problem of receiving delivery services in unfavorable environment.
“During those tempting times, we prayed to receive delivery services during the day because if happed that one was to be attended to during the night it was indeed a challenge. Health attendants were forced to work using torches, a situation that caused some patients to lose their lives” commended Ms Maua Said, who was receiving health service at Ligoma health centre.
According to Ms Saidi, some patients, especially from families that had ability to raise money, were forced to travel to the district or region hospitals to seek further medical care in case of complications.
Things were worse for the poor families, she added. On his part, Acting Tunduru Districtl Medical Officer( DMO), Dr Bernard Muamanda said solar power installed in the health centres was a blessing simply because it would create favourable working environment for health service delivery.
“We were indeed in bad shape before because maternal deaths were on the increase. Health workers were at crossroads, especially during the night when they were forced to use torches. Things were even worse if happened that there were no batteries,” he said.
According to Dr Muamanda, not only the project brought relief to mothers and under-five children, it also helped to create favourable conditions for keeping medical equipment, especially those that needed certain levels of temperatures.
With improvement of working conditions Tunduru District Commissioner, Mr Homera now has a sigh of relief as he is optimistic of retaining health workers who have been running away from the areas.
“The project is in line with President John Magufuli’s drive to improve the health sector as I have witnessed people being assisted with health equipment, medicines and training of health personnel in various areas across the country, let alone installation of solar powers systems,” said Mr Homera.
Speaking about plans to expand the scope of health service provision in his district, Mr Homera said they now have 14,200,000 bricks in for the construction of dispensaries and health centres in areas that lack health facilities.
Masasi Anglican Diocese Deputy Bishop, Mr Can Diglos Msigala expressed their commitment to work with the government to improve health, education and water services, including livestock sector.
He said they are well prepared to deal with a number of challenges in the sectors for the major objective of improving the welfare of the general public.