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New clinic in Mozambique restores dignity to women’s healthcare

The image on the left shows the structure where women would previously receive care. The new dispensary (right) allows women to receive care with privacy and dignity.

May 21, 2019

By Mike Ziemerink

In October 2018, PWRDF announced it was building with partner EHALE three Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) dispensaries in Nampula Province, Mozambique. Now with one dispensary open for business, mothers and children are getting the healthcare they desperately need.

These dispensaries would not be possible without the support of PWRDF’s incredible donors. During the 2018 World of Gifts campaign seven “Brick and Mortar” donations of $7,500 each came in. Combined with a 6:1 match from the government of Canada, each gift resulted in $52,500 toward a dispensary.

Four individuals made brick-and-mortar donations as well as three church bodies:

A woman carrying her infant leaves the dispensary with valuable information on her child’s health while other women and children wait for care.
  • The Anglican Parish of Sunny Brae in Moncton, New Brunswick
  • St. Martin’s Cathedral in Gander, Newfoundland
  • The Diocese of Central Newfoundland

The first dispensary opened in late December 2018 and has already been successful in improving maternal and newborn health in Liupo, Nampula Province.

The dispensary provides women with all kinds of healthcare services under one roof. Previously, women had to walk between various buildings, sometimes far apart and in extreme weather, discouraging them from seeking healthcare in the first place.

One patient from the dispensary described how the new building has made life easier for women in Liupo. “Before the new building was built services were received from a very small space with no dignity or privacy,” she said. “Women were afraid to speak to nurses because there was no privacy to answer questions, but construction of the new dispensary has improved services a lot.”

The dispensaries provide family planning consultations, pre- and post-natal care for women, vaccination services, growth and development monitoring for children under five and pediatric triage. Every pregnant woman and her spouse who comes into the clinic undergo mandatory screening for HIV and AIDS.

“It’s incredible how many services the dispensary can provide for these women under one roof,” said Richard Librock, PWRDF’s External Funding program manager who is monitoring the construction of the dispensaries.

The construction considers everything from weather patterns, convenience and children’s safety. Lessons learned from the first build will be taken into account during constructions of the next two dispensaries.

Mothers and children wait to receive healthcare in the newly constructed dispensary

Powerful cyclones are a constant threat in Mozambique, as recently seen by the destruction caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, so the construction is as resilient as possible. It is recommended that roofs are sloped between a 25- and 45-degree angle in order to prevent gale force winds from getting underneath and uplifting the roof, so the dispensary’s roof is within those parameters.

“When designing these dispensaries we consider Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong, will go wrong, so we take every precaution,” said Librock.

In order to be as sustainable as possible the roof was retrofitted with an eavestrough system that channels rainwater directly into three 40 cubic meter cisterns. These cisterns provide the entire dispensary with water for the newly built washrooms and sanitation stations.

Each of these cisterns holds 40,000 litres of water. This means that during  a normal rainy season, when approximately 900 millimetres of rainfall is received within a year, the cisterns can collect enough rainwater to supply the dispensary throughout the eight-month dry season that follows, which is especially helpful in an area prone to drought. In a prolonged drought, which might last years, the cisterns remain useful in that they are easy to refill with a water truck.

The dispensary draws electricity from a reliable, renewable source of energy known as Caborra Bassa, the largest dam in Mozambique.

Construction of the next two dispensaries in Mozambique is slated to begin shortly in two other communities in the districts of Mossuril and Erati, ensuring more women and children can access healthcare with dignity.

-With files from Richard Librock