First round of interviews underway, despite remoteness

Last month, our trained and practiced data collection team for the Maternity Waiting Home (MWH) Realist Evaluation were excited to conduct their first round of interviews and focus groups, kick-starting the process of learning how, for whom, and under what circumstances MWHs in Inhambane are effective at making childbirth safer, and how to deepen that effectiveness.

The five-person team set out from the project office in Inhambane city on a five-hour drive to the Vilankulo Rural Hospital for what they expected would be a two-day trip, engaging with women and partners of women who had used the Vilankulo Maternity Waiting Home; health workers at the Vilankulo MWH; and community leaders involved with the MWH.

The reality of reaching research participants, however, created a very different story: the team travelled even longer, more difficult distances than anticipated to districts beyond Vilankulo – almost reaching the next province, Sofala – over little-used routes. The trip had to be extended by two days just to conduct the meetings that had been scheduled. Although none of the data collectors were new to rural areas in Inhambane or to the reality of urban-rural disparities in Mozambique generally, they were all deeply touched by the experience.

Following the arduous routes that women would have followed to reach health care, knowing that the women had travelled without the guarantee of safe transportation (such as they had), deepened the team’s commitment to research aimed at combatting health inequities and improving women’s maternal health experiences.