Clean Water Is The Only Charge For Giving Birth In This Delivery Room

Four years after joining WaterAid and through several trips to see our work, there are few places which will stick with me as much as a tiny health clinic in Tanzania’s Geita region.

Nyarugusu Dispensary opens at the crack of dawn to face the challenges all health care professionals do: a morning staff meeting, allocation of cases and a seemingly endless stream of people waiting to be seen.

The labouring women who come here also face the same fears as all women about to give birth — will the birth go smoothly, how much will it hurt, will the baby be healthy?

The difference is, this tiny dispensary, which serves a population of 56,000 with only seven staff —patients taking up every chair, lining the open waiting room and all the walkways outside — does it all without a drop of water on-site.

There are no taps, no pumps, not even a well in walking distance. Water is purchased by the jerrycan from a private vendor on a bicycle cart, or brought in by patients and their families, hauled from dubious wells or a nearby river. The only charge for giving birth here is to bring water — for sterilizing implements, washing the baby, and cleaning the delivery room afterward.

A jerrycan costs 500 shillings — just 28 cents Canadian — but that is unaffordable for many families.

Every drop is precious and hard to come by. And the stories move us to tears. One mother spends three days in labour, finally delivers her baby girl safely, and then cannot be discharged until her sister-in-law brings the bucket of water to scrub the plastic sheets which covered the delivery bed. Another young mother slips out with her baby before being discharged, because she and her aunty haven’t brought the water needed to clean the instruments used to examine her. Yet another lost her baby daughter on her third day of life to infection, an all-too-common occurrence in the absence of clean water, decent toilets and soap for washing with.

A jerrycan costs 500 shillings — just 28 cents Canadian — but that is unaffordable for many families.

“It makes my job very hard, not having water. Because sometimes you need to do something and the water is very little — it limits you,” says nurse Jackline Mwiguta, 28, one of the dispensary’s senior attendants. “There are some situations in which I want to help a woman and I

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

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