The cost of constructing a Maternal Waiting Home runs between $25K and $50K, yet the result is hundreds if not thousands of healthy babies born in a given year.
Maternal Waiting Homes (MWHs) do a lot to tackle critical issues. By allowing for pre and post-natal care, emphasizing nutrition, and providing shelter for mothers and their children during the last month or so of pregnancy, MWHs improve maternal and infant survival and achieve healthier outcomes for newborns. Most importantly, MWHs facilitate deliveries attended by trained traditional midwives and certified nurses or doctors in very rural, very remote areas where access to medical facilities and treatment is normally too far away.
The presence of Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs), certified nurses or other medical personnel make MWHs among the safest places an expectant Liberian mother can go in the final month of her pregnancy to ensure her delivery goes smoothly. TTMs who can perform modern labor and delivery practices are an essential ingredient in the success of MWHs because they are trusted members of their communities and there are a lot of them, as I witnessed on my visits to the Karnplay and Handii MWHs, where I was greeted in song by crowds of TTMs – what a moving experience that was, both times! The pride in the role they play and their obvious love for the women and babies they support was abundantly evident, and for me it underscored one of the tenets of Africare’s mission – by Africans, for Africans. Their engagement in the labor and delivery process helps make the MWHs sustainable and increases community support and buy-in – a goal of every Africare initiative.
The MWHs are basic by American standards, consisting of a common room and several bedrooms, which are frequently shared by multiple mothers depending on the number of residents and the capacity of the Home, which vary. They also include a separate room for a certified nurse, and as more Homes are built, separate quarters for nurses are becoming the norm. A scullery or rudimentary kitchen is also built alongside Homes to give mothers a place to prepare their meals. All mothers are required to bring their food with them, which presents special challenges given the lack of transportation available to most mothers, but by requiring mothers to be responsible for feeding themselves, Africare and our partners help ensure the Homes are sustainable. The cost of constructing a MWH runs between $25K and $50K, yet the result is hundreds if not thousands of healthy babies born in a given year. By almost any standard, that’s an exceptional return on investment.
This post is Part 3 of a four-part series detailing Kendra Davenport‘s recent visit to Nigeria and Liberia. Read Part 1 and Part 2, and read about how the local community supported the opening of a new MWH in Part 4. Africare is continually looking to expand the MWH network and to use the homes as platforms for additional grassroots programs. To support Africare’s development programs, click here to give now.