In Cabo Delgado, Mozambique ongoing violence has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety. Eduardo Mondlane camp, located in Mueda, is home to more than 2,000 displaced families.
Many people walked long distances and left their families behind to reach Eduardo Mondlane camp. Others were separated from their loved ones in their travels or witnessed the death of family members because of violence, poor living conditions, and lack of medical care.
In the camp, many pregnant women have little to no information about pregnancy and there are many challenges to having a safe childbirth. Since October 2021, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health promotion team in Mueda has partnered with community leaders and traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp to support pregnant women and young children.
Atija Bacar, 66 years old, lives in Eduardo Mondlane camp, where she also works with MSF as a traditional birth attendant. She is originally from Mocímboa da Praia, a town that has been heavily impacted in the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado.
Atija provides care to more than 100 women in the camp. Like many of them, she has lived through traumatic experiences, including witnessing the murder of her husband and son. “When I arrived here, this place was a forest,” says Atija. “Some good people helped me to get settled. Now I can also help pregnant women. I know they need my support.”
One of the team’s main goals is to have more women go to the hospital while they are in labour so they can be supported through a safe birth in a sanitised space.
Atija and other birth attendants organize regular talks with pregnant women to pass on health promotion messages, practical logistical information, and to let them know about MSF’s transportation services to the hospital. A chopela, a small motorized three-wheeled vehicle, is always available to transport people to the hospital. The birth attendants regularly visit with women before childbirth and follow up with them after they have given birth.
Our community work with traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp is ongoing, but the team is already thrilled with the positive impacts the initiative is having on women and their families. In January 2022, 33 per cent of the pregnant women living in Eduardo Mondlane camp delivered their babies at a medical facility. In April 2022, that number reached 75 per cent.