Reaching the unreached

HEALTHY PARTNERSHIP—Mwansambo (centre) flanked by Ruthie (right) and Thomas

Three women have accidentally, but successfully, given birth at Ameca Primary Healthcare Clinic at Chilaweni in Blantyre Rural, since the facility opened its doors in 2017.

Without a maternity unit or anything near that sufficiently resourced to handle labour experiences, healthcare workers at the facility helped the women bring into the world their little ones.

But that simply buttresses the need for such a unit at the clinic which was constructed by the Alex’s Medical Clinic in Africa (Ameca) Trust founded in December 2006.


“The women went into advanced labour at home and their nearest facility was the primary healthcare clinic. They actually came to the clinic to wait for an ambulance but ended up giving birth here,” says Blantyre District Council Director of Health and Social Services, Gift Kawalazila.

With the nearest maternity unit some 15 kilometres away, at South Lunzu, communities surrounding Ameca Clinic have been silently praying for such at wing at the clinic.

They have seen women delivering at home or on the roadsides on their way to their nearest health centres with a maternity unit.


“We expect significant improvements as the clinic will soon have a maternity unit,” Kawalazila says with optimism.

His hope is that Malawi should further reduce maternal mortality rate from the current 439 deaths per 100,000 live births.

And he reckons that adequately functioning and resourced maternity units are at the centre of such strides.

Thus, when the Ameca Trust announced that it would respond to the cry of communities surrounding the clinic it constructed by building a maternity wing, Kawalazila’s confidence shot up.

“This clinic is already helping a lot. It has brought the number of health centres under Blantyre District Council to 29. With the maternity wing, it is obvious we will significantly reduce maternal deaths,” he says.

Embracing related thoughts is Chief of Health Services, Charles Mwansambo, who admits that the reduction in maternal deaths is still not enough.

Mwansambo, who presided over the foundation stone laying event at the clinic, maintains that most maternal deaths are preventable.

“Despite that we are making progress, there still is a long way to go because women are still dying when giving birth and any death is one too many,” says Mwansambo.

Malawi is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals where universal health coverage is also tackled.

Getting health facilities close to the people is at the core of the strategy and Mwansambo pays tribute to partners that are helping the government achieve this.

“Ameca’s support is what we need to achieve universal health coverage. On our part, we are also training more healthcare workers. There is a cadre called community midwives that should be closer to women who are about to deliver,” he says.

And just outside Ameca Clinic, on the day of the maternity unit foundation stone laying event, a heavily pregnant women walks languidly to a motorcycle taxi depot with her husband, carrying a small backpack, trying hard to keep her pace.

She cannot access maternity services within her village overlooking the clinic because there is none there and delivering at home would be dangerous for her life.

As she mounts onto a motorcycle on her way to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Ruthie Markus, who established the Ameca Trust in memory of her only child, Alex, winds up her short speech on her passion to assist the health needs of the most vulnerable.

Alex, who studied medicine on an Army scholarship, was a qualified British Army doctor and an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps when he died in 2006 at the age of 23.

“My son had great passion in medicine in challenging rural settings and I am carrying out some of the initiatives which would have been part of his passions if he was alive,” says Ruth.

She hopes that her pursuit of saving more lives will be fulfilled in the efficiency of the maternity wing at Ameca Clinic which, according to Ameca Health Care Clinical Director, Paul Thomas, will be completed in three or four months.

Thomas has taught surgery in Malawi and realised, in the course of his medical quests, that primary health care is the most important focus for developing health care in Malawi.

“Having built the primary healthcare clinic here [at Chilaweni] and seeing how successful that has been, local authorities asked whether we could build a maternity unit because getting to the nearest maternity unit is really a big problem here,” Thomas says.

And for Ruth, having lost her son simply taught her how to live and how to let others live too.

Thus, every cry of an ill child, every groan of a woman with labour pains weighing down heavily on her and every pain in the body of a human being fortify her resolve to do more.

The Ameca Clinic—which is being enhanced with a maternity wing—is a portion of the vision that she has for the less-privileged

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker