by Jessie Forsyth and Argentina Munguambe
Strengthening the quality of prenatal care that women receive in rural communities is an ongoing challenge in Inhambane. We know that distance poses barriers to accessing care, as do a range of other factors. These include: demands on women’s time and resources that make it difficult to prioritize the travel required for care; and a lack of support from partners or families for seeking care. On the health services side, other barriers include poor attitudes and behaviour on the part of health workers and insufficient supplies or materials to meet needs. Taking the full context into consideration, our project uses a multi-pronged approach to address these barriers by strengthening community capacity for wellness while strengthening health system capacity for care.
This month, the project’s continuing education for health workers has opened up a new innovation: taking portable ultrasound kits and procedures to women where they are at, in communities; and providing accessible prenatal support.
A group of fifteen health workers from our five targeted districts gathered in the city of Massinga this week for upgrade training on quality prenatal care, incorporating ultrasound procedures as part of mitigating complications and ensuring healthy pregnancies.
Specific impacts on women of the portable ultrasound include:
- Reducing the distance traveled by women needing an ultrasound;
- Early detection of obstetric complications, such as low amount of amniotic fluid;
- Early detection of twin pregnancy; and
- Diagnosis of false pregnancy.
The project has provided each district with a portable ultrasound kit that the trainees will now use both at their core health facilities and in their prenatal care community outreach programs (“brigadas móveis”).
By improving the health system’s diagnostic capacity and bringing those relatively sophisticated services closer to women in their communities, the project and our partners are optimistic about this new avenue for improving women’s maternal health.