Today we visited Serang, Indonesia, a few hours west of Jakarta, where Project HOPE is implementing a program funded by Johnson and Johnson to strengthen the local government's health system for maternal and newborn care and health promotion. Indonesia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in southeast Asia, and the Indonesian Government has made reduction of maternal mortality one of the priorities of its national five year development plan (2014-2019).
We visited a community health post in Panyirapan Village, Baros, a sub-district of Serang. There, health volunteers provide group education on maternal and child health in villages and weigh children under five years old to monitor their growth. In collaboration with the local government, Project HOPE has helped to revitalize the government’s long-standing volunteer program with enhanced training on participatory group education and increased outreach to encourage women to choose childbirth with a midwife rather than a traditional birth attendant (TBA).
Today we also visited Baros Health Center. Here, Project HOPE helped upgrade the Health Center to become a Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) facility by training the health center doctor, midwives and nurses on BEmONC and providing equipment, medicine and medical supplies. We also trained village midwives on quality maternal care (antenatal care, normal delivery care, postpartum care and counseling) and trained community health volunteers (Kader) to promote safe motherhood and healthy behaviors for mothers and children in the community.
When we visited Baros Health Center this morning, we met a young mother. This young mother is 24 years old and from Panyaripan village. She was in labor, about to deliver her second child. She told us her first child is six years old and was delivered with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant (TBA). In this area TBAs are still active, and many pregnant women prefer to deliver at home assisted by a TBA.
The HOPE program recognizes the importance of TBAs in a woman's birth experience and has been conducting joint trainings with volunteers and TBAs together, to help shift the TBA’s role to being a partner with the volunteer educator and the midwife, rather than handling the birth alone.
The young mother stated that she was convinced to deliver her second child at the health center because Mrs. Anita, a Project HOPE’s-trained community health volunteer, persuaded her to have regular, monthly prenatal check-ups at the local community health post. During her regular care, the village midwife told her it is safer to deliver at the health center sinc it has been upgraded as BEmONC facility. She was more convinced to deliver at the health center after she attended the pregnant mothers’ class facilitated by Project HOPE. She also said that she will give her baby breast milk exclusively for six months, the importance of which she has learned during the maternal/child health classes she attended.
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