Zambia: Local Volunteers Supporting Mobile Health Clinics

To save pregnant women and their babies in medically remote areas in Zambia, it is necessary to detect abnormalities or other dangerous signs at an early stage, provide first aid, and send pateients to an appropriate medical center as promptly as possible. Because there are not enough medical workers in  villages dotted across the vast country, local volunteers in these communities play an important role in assisting mobile clinics operated by midwives sent by the Ministry of Health, Zambia. AAR Japan, which has been running a project to protect maternal and child health in Chisankane, Kafue District since February 2016, gave local volunteers a training seminar for maternal and child health from October 31st to November 5th, 2017.  

Training Seminar for Maternal and Child Health   

A total of 50 volunteers were initially selected from among 100 local volunteers as a “group for the promotion of safe delivery.” Then, 25 group members took part in  AAR Japan’s first training seminar for maternal and child health. These members were selected with consideration of a mixture of different hometowns and trust relationships between volunteers and communities. The aim of the training is to have local volunteers acquire knowledge and skills for maternal and child health, including recognizing dangerous signs during pregnancy, as well as providing information on breastfeeding benefits and how to check and treat illness in newborns.

                          Role-playing an actual situation, role-playing exercises were carried out 
                        on November 4th, 2017. The left is Daisuke KANAMORI from AAR Japan.

As some local volunteers cannot read or write, the training adopts role-playing exercises with picture cards so that everybody can easily understand the lessons. For example, assuming a postpartum bleeding situation, volunteers learned procedures from giving first aid for stopping bleeding and promoting adequate hydration, to sending the patient to a medical center. Participants also practiced how to place the pregnant woman in order to wrap a cloth as a temporary treatment, following their instructor’s direction. The volunteers have committed themselves fully for the training.
Other training incorporated the benefits of using five senses such as singing, dancing and gesturing with traditional songs in Zambia. These attempts   also help illiterate participants learn and remember the lessons more easily. In the last day of the training session, we carried out a skill test to check their understanding. As a result, all of the participants successfully completed the training, getting much higher scores than those for the preliminary test carried out on the first day. 

                                                Test for treatment of postpartum bleeding

                Training materials include lots of pictures and illustrations for illiterate volunteers.

                                        Local volunteers listening to lectures with serious eyes.

The group members for the promotion of safe delivery in Chisankane will play important roles for recognizing and analyzing issues specific to their areas of responsibility, and for finding solutions for maternal and child health challenges. One of training participants, Mr. Mutonji, expressed his enthusiasm; “I didn’t know what to do when a pregnant woman or her baby was in a critical condition. This training taught me how to treat them. In my village, I’ll definitely share what I have learned here so that we can help more mothers and babies. “

AAR Japan will continue to hold training sessions for maternal and child health, and working on protection of mothers and babies in cooperation with local volunteers.
In addition to public donations, this activity has been subsidized by the Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects by MOFA

Daisuke KANAMORI, Lusaka Office since November 2016 
 Born in Yamaguchi, Japan. After graduating from university, he joined support activities for Tohoku earthquake affected areas while working in a private company. Then, he studied the reconstruction after the civil war in Rwanda at a graduate course in U.K and then learned French in France. He joined AAR Japan with an aspiration of doing something he can do in this society as a Japanese. He hopes to improve rates of the high maternal and neonatal mortality in Zambia. He enjoys playing football and futsal games. (Profile as of the date of the article)

Translated by: Ms. Satomi Tomishima
Proof reading by: Mr. Allan Richarz