Summer’s over, back to school & work

While many of you were enjoying the outdoors of the European summer, our Bunda team has been working hard to build up momentum for the use of JamboMama! in the district.

After the official launching meetings with the medical authorities and senior staff of health facilities in Bunda district at Musoma and Kibara end of May, the JamboMama! Bunda team held a series of village question-and-answer meetings in July about maternal and perinatal mortality and the collective responsibility all have to make motherhood and childbirth safer for mother and child.

The men were exhorted to become more actively involved in pregnancy monitoring and to accompany their wives to the antenatal clinic at least once and for the delivery. When they asked why, the team explained to them it was not only to lend support to their wives but also because they had to be tested for communicable diseases such as HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted infections that are life threatening for both mother and child.

The mothers were encouraged to register early in their pregnancy, to start iron supplementation and testing for harmful infections and treatment them as early as possible. Early registration would be rewarded with a JamboMama!! totebag with a few baby clothes for the first ten boldest.

The JamboMama! project aims to improve understanding of the gestational process and awareness of the collective responsibility to ensure the mother’s and (unborn) child’s wellbeing. This is a much bigger cultural and social change than it might seem from afar. The top-down approach is so ingrained!

The JamboMama! project combats not only gender inequality but also the inequality between city and rural area, offering technological innovation directly to the rural population, customised to their needs. It is a booster for young healthcare staff to become connected to modern healthcare thanks to the app, instead of feeling abandoned in a backwater, with low pay, no career perspective and no fun.

As for learning to use the app itself, we find that most people are very keen on getting digital skills. Many of the expectant mothers themselves feel timid at first, but the baseline healthcare providers and village health volunteers learn fast and are now being trained to train others, including some of the mothers themselves. We also encourage their children, many of whom learn digital skills at school, to assist their mothers, aunts and sisters with the use of the app.

The app must now be practiced with, and feedback on content and user-friendliness given to SAHFA so that the digital company can rebuild the app according to rural users’ needs.

The JamboMama! app should give women access to treatment that is respectful and competent in an environment that is clean and minimally comfortable, inspiring trust and making it possible to relax for bodily exams. When doing the rounds in the villages, our team was appalled at the state of some of the rural clinics. No woman should have to be examined in such a drab room and on such an uncomfortable examination bed – one had just a bare block of crumbly concrete, another an old iron trunk.

We must improve the basic antenatal clinic conditions where these are below standard. Modest amounts can considerably improve the material conditions of care: a proper examination bed with a mattress, a changeable cover for it, the walls whitewashed, roof repaired, a proper bench to sit on in an outdoors waiting room, the yard looking clean and inviting, with some flowers… As for simple examination tools: a blood pressure meter, scales, simple laboratory test materials such as a strips for urine tests…

How can you help?

With 500 Euros and local volunteer support a rural clinic can be renovated so that the JamboMama! app will make its promise true to connect the women to respectful quality antenatal, delivery and postpartum care.

For better, pedagogical use of the JamboMama! app for a small group, bigger screen smartphones or even tablets have been requested. The present budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of bigger screen smartphones. For 500 Euros added to the present budget 10 bigger screen smartphones can be bought in stead of the small screen ones that we have budgeted for.

A third need is that of buying local expertise into the pilot implementation. That local expertise in m- and e-health technology exists, we have met very competent nationals, but local expertise is not available on a charity base. Tanzanian professionals have families to feed and careers to pursue. For 500 Euros a month added to our present budget we can hire that expertise which ensures the optimal use of the project funds, training of our local staff in facilitation of village meetings, basic IT skills and providing feedback to our digital engineers.

What would help us most is to get 1000 members minimally who pay an annuals membership contribution of 25 Euros. That would be a great booster for the project in a number of ways. A guaranteed basis income that we shall double to pay for the real costs; maintenance of our tax exemption status which benefits all EU donors; a broad based support that attracts bigger institutional funding; a big booster for the small SAHFA team to get inspiration, to feel encouraged by and accountable to a huge community of supporters.

Membership can be just a simple fixed contribution that you can make as high as you wish over and beyond the minimum of 25 Euros per person, or 50 per couple or family. It can be as passive or active as you choose: with passive voting rights and after two years of membership, active voting rights. With the possibility to join a field mission as a reporter, a smartphone savvy digital volunteer, translator/interpreter, a rural health or reproductive, maternal and newborn adviser… there are many many possibilities!

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