Changing the lives of frontline healthcare workers
Nyaganga J Samuel is a nurse/midwife at Nyamalimbe Dispensary, and is much happier in her job now that there is access to clean water. Listen to her story here.
Nyamalimbe Dispensary is located in Geita District; it's serving a target population of 26,802. Before the WaterAid project, the dispensary had very old and small maternal and labour wards. There was no water, no incinerator, no electricity, no placenta pit and has only one drop hole for both staff, male and female clients.
Nyaganga J Samuel is a nurse/midwife at Nyamalimbe Dispensary. She has been working there for over eight years now, and is part of a small team, which comprises of four nurses, a clinical officer, a health officer, and a medical attendant. This means that the staff are often overrun with patients, and work over their hours.
Before the project began, Nyaganga said: 'We don't have water in both the labour and maternity wards. Pregnant women or their caregiver have to bring three buckets of water (60 litres) to the hospital for use during childbirth. I case an expectant mother comes at night when there is no water; I collect water from my home in order to save a life. Working here has taught me to use water sparingly, I use only 20 litres of water during childbirth but if water was available I would use 60 litres.'
'I will never for get this day when a pregnant woman came here at night ready to deliver but there was no water. I had to run home to collect water. I can imagine if I did not have water at home what would I have done? Good enough the birthing process went on well both mother and the new baby were healthy. Here water is costly, a bucket costs between 400 - 500 shillings, this is costly and some women do not have enough money to buy all the water they need.'
The WaterAid project, in collaboration with Geita Regional Government, and AMREF Health Africa, has brought many changes to the dispensary. The project is aiming to improve maternal, newborn and child health through improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities. This has involved providing a clean and sustainable supply of water, new waste disposal facilities and training for frontline healthcare workers on WASH and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).
WASH in HCFs not only improves maternal and newborn health, through reducing the risk of infections, it also improves the morale and motivation of healthcare workers, who now get to work in a clean and safe environment, and no longer face the pressures of looking for water.
Nyaganga said: 'I don’t have as much stress in my job now. The working environment has changed. For cleanliness, we don’t have any worries, we can do our work quickly. We have six handwashing stations in the facility. We need some more in the renovated building.
My other colleagues are happier too. We are a lot more motivated. We are starting to receive more patients because of the new facilities we have, people are aware that there is water and electricity. When the project started, I didn’t believe it would be like this.
Once I first arrived here eight years ago, after a few weeks I just wanted to leave. But then I got used to it and just suffered. It is my responsibility to help people here. But now I don’t have these thoughts to move elsewhere. We have started to plant flowers outside because we have enough water.'