By: Newton Kalua

October, 2023 has been another monumental month for White Ribbon Alliance Malawi (WRASM), a sub-grantee of the PROPEL Health project, supported by USAID. The tireless efforts have culminated in contributing progress towards positive maternal and newborn health outcomes.

WRA Malawi continued with engagements with hospital ombudsmen and hospital in-charges as well as community members on Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) in order to create an environment where service users know and demand their rights as well exercise their responsibilities as they receive care while the health providers provide services with an understanding that the communities know the quality of care they need to receive. This done repeatedly together with the other strategies in place, will eventually improve quality of care.

In our engagements with ombudsmen and hospital In-Charges, the deliberations were full of waves of positivity as the dedicated professionals pledged to ensure that women and newborns receive the utmost care.

Sanchez: geared up to advocate for change

Josephine Sanchez, a maternity In-Charge at Mtengowanthenga mission hospital in Dowa, vowed to encourage midwives to approach their clients with understanding, providing comfort during the challenging moments of labor.

A critical question arose about addressing Mortality Medical Data System One participant, Godfrey Moyo, also from Mtengowanthenga, shared a valuable suggestion, emphasizing: “it can be improved by conducting strict audits so that we are also able to report what is truly happening on the ground.” The perspective by Moyo highlighted the importance of accurate data to drive meaningful change, Moyo continued by emphasizing the significance of building strong relationships, saying, “We promise to create a good rapport with clients and speak with them without raising our voices.”

These simple yet powerful commitments speak volumes about the dedication to provide care that is not only effective but also compassionate and dignified.

Mwale: wants to see positive change

During the community engagements, WRA Malawi Dowa Chapter Secretary, Catherine Mwale, in Mponela, Dowa district, joined the chorus of community advocates by expressing her aspiration to see Mponela health center, and other health centers surrounding Dowa, consider instant referrals, for women and newborns as respectful care calls for timely provision of care.

This forward-thinking approach demonstrates a proactive stance toward ensuring the best possible care for all mothers and newborns.

But the momentum didn’t stop there. In a separate community engagement meeting at Mkanda in Mchinji district, Christina Welengani, the influential Senior Group Village Head and the Community Health Action Group (CHAG) Chairperson, lent her voice to the cause. With conviction in her tone, she declared, “It [the engagement] has been an eye opener. I challenge that you will see great changes. We will work hand in hand with the chiefs to improve the situation.”

She reflected on how, had they known these rights and responsibilities earlier, the rapport between health workers and clients would have been miles ahead, and by now health care would have been of a great deal and of high respect and dignity.

This collective commitment underscores the power of education and advocacy. Together, we’re transforming the landscape of maternity care, ensuring that respect and compassion guide every interaction towards building a future where every mother and newborn receive the care they deserve.