Maternity Waiting Areas (MWAs) are facilities on the hospital grounds that offer pregnant women a safe place to stay before delivery. Because women that stay there are closer to the hospital and can be monitored, MWAs have reduced maternal mortality and stillbirths by more than
VHP has so far constructed three Maternity Waiting Areas to improve the access to care that pregnant women in rural Ethiopia desperately need.
As VHP’s treatment efforts have grown, further expansion of the Screen, Transport, and Treat Program was challenged by the marginal capacity of the hospital where we are working. It became clear that, in general, medical facilities in rural areas have extremely limited infrastructure. They struggle to provide even basic maternal health care.
Working with local partners, VHP developed a simple scorecard assessment tool and in 2016 evaluated the capacity needs of 14 strategically located medical facilities: ten health centers, three district hospitals, and one regional hospital in four parts of rural Ethiopia. Most had no access to clean water, few had places for pregnant women to stay, and many lacked critical medical supplies. The providers in one health center reported that they delivered 90 babies over the prior three months on a concrete floor, without water, protective gear, or even an exam table. They were not alone.
Under Phase I of the project we constructed maternity waiting areas with kitchens, showers, and pit latrines, created access to clean water, cleaned facilities and compounds, implemented fenced biohazard areas, put in hand-washing stations in patient care areas and trained healthcare providers on the importance of clean and safe healthcare in five medical facilities including the Bachuma Hospital. Phase I is complete with the exception of access to clean water in two of the facilities.
Now in Phase II, we turn our attention to creating an adequate supply of clean water for the Bachuma Hospital and Chebera Health Center.