The programme is funded by the European Union under its Results Based Funding (RBF) programme.
Local communities in the province, through the Health Centre committees, are at the forefront of constructing these waiting homes and improving facilities at local health centres.
This reporter visited various clinics in some remote parts this week and witnessed the positive results first hand. An expecting mother at Siganda clinic in Bubi district, Alice Sibanda, 30, could not hide her excitement as she explained how she had benefited from the facility.
“When I had my first baby I had to travel over 30 kilometres to Bubi district hospital to have my baby. I never had the opportunity to attend an antenatal clinic. Now with the waiting home, I am able to attend regular antenatal classes and I feel at home because everything including nutritious food, beds and blankets are provided, “said Sibanda.
Another expectant mother, this time at Mdutshane clinic, Stabile Ncube hailed the home as a ‘saving grace’ to pregnant mothers, especially those who have to travel long distances to give birth and access antenatal services.
“In my ward, I know mothers who have lost their lives while giving birth at home. Some new-borns have also died at home because of complications. At this place, the nurses are on standby 24 hours a day. We are taught proper hygiene and how to look after our babies,” said Ncube who is expecting her first child. She urged all expectant mothers in remote areas in the province to utilise the homes.
Timothy Ndlovu, chairperson of the Siganda community health centre, said that before the introduction of these homes in the area, a significant number of women and children died due to birth-related complications.
“We decided to prioritise waiting homes from our RBF funds because we realised that unnecessary birth related deaths were occurring. At every community meeting we try as much as possible to encourage expectant mothers to utilise the waiting homes,” said Ndlovu.
The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), a network of civic community based organisations in conjunction with Save the Children, also supports the homes as part of the organisation’s sexual reproduction health programmes.
“Our organisation is aware that access to maternal and child health care is a challenge in the country. We are facilitating skills development on health issues in local communities. We train voluntary health monitors and health centre committees in the province and have, so far, trained health facilitators at four clinics in the Inyathi district,” said Nonjabulo Mahlangu, (CWGH) Project Team Leader.
The country’s performance in key health indicators lag behind Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce both infant and mother mortality.
The country’s maternal ratio stands at 960 deaths per 100 000 live births against the MDG target of 174. Infant mortality is a staggering 57 deaths per 1 000 live births against an MDG of 22.Post published in: Analysis