Lack of access to health services in rural areas is a difficult challenge to overcome in Tanzania and Empower Tanzania considers it a major cause preventing economic development and resiliency in a community.
This lack of access is compounded by limited, often inaccurate, information about healthy behaviors. We address both of these challenges in our projects. Each project has been developed in close cooperation with the people it will serve as well as local government officials and other stakeholders. All of them feature empowerment, especially of women, and all include a strong educational component. As is evidenced in all of our programming, we believe that education changes everything.
- Improving Women’s Health Program (IWHP) — The Improving Women’s Health Program (IWHP) began in 2012 and has trained 33 women as Community Health Educators (CHEs), each serving one ward of the Same District (population 269,000). The CHEs use interactive presentations as well as educational videos in Swahili to provide information on such basic topics as hand washing, purifying water, and mosquito nets use to prevent malaria. Each CHE conducts 12 meetings per month with attendance now averaging over 17,000 people per month. In total, over 700,000 people have attended over 16,000 meetings carried out through the program. The impact of these women is amazing! District wide surveys have demonstrated the effectiveness of the presentations in improved health topic knowledge and attitude change. In fact, preliminary government health data found lower rates of malaria, diarrheal diseases, intestinal parasites and acute respiratory infection in Same District compared with neighboring control districts. (Read the IWHP Operation Narrative for 2016 by clicking HERE.)
- Community Health Alliance Program (CHAP) — The Community Health Alliance Program began in 2014 with the purpose of integrating 21 remote underserved Maasai villages with the formal health system to reduce the significant disease burden and high mortality rates in the communities. Thirty Maasai women were each selected by their village leaders and were trained as Community Health Workers (CHWs). These women provide timely life-saving treatments such as newborn resuscitation or control of post-partum hemorrhage, recognize when someone with an illness needs to be referred to a health facility, and treat minor wounds and injuries. The CHWs also provide preventive health education presentations to their fellow community members and in 2015 were given iPads preloaded with health education videos to facilitate these presentations. (Click HERE to read the Community-Hospital Operation Narrative for 2016.)
- BEYOND Gender-Based Violence Program (GBV) — The Gender-Based Violence Program was developed to respond to the high levels of domestic violence in Tanzania. The program was designed to be culturally appropriate with the assistance of local counselors and women who choose to call themselves “survivors” rather than “victims.” The program has established 10 support groups each serving 10 women. The 100 survivors in the program receive twice-monthly group counseling and are preparing to embark on economic strengthening projects that will generate income, autonomy, and dignity. Improvement in depression and anxiety is being measured by instruments developed by psychologists and statisticians. (Read the GBV Operation Narrative HERE.) The women in this program are now called “Entrepreneurs” and have each been trained in solid business practices and are involved in the production and distribution of items such as batik fabric, liquid soap, and reusable menstrual pads. What was once a program of survival is now one of complete empowerment.
- Safe Motherhood — Safe Motherhood for Maasai Women and Children was established in response to an urgent request by the Maasai community of Nadaruru, which had exceptionally high maternal mortality rates. In 2011, with significant local support, Empower Tanzania constructed a clinic building as the site for the provision of a safe motherhood program. Ten women were trained as birth attendants by Tanzanian faculty. Two of the birth attendants staff the clinic building daily and provide education to pregnant women and their newborns. Twice each month, a medical team for Gonja Lutheran Hospital comes to the village to provide maternal checkups, immunizations of children, and other health services to community members. A similar clinic staffed by 10 trained birth attendants was established in the Maasai community of Pangaro in 2012. Both clinics have had solar lighting systems installed and a latrine was built at Nadaruru in 2013—one is planned for Pangaro in 2016. (For the full Women and Children Operation Narrative for 2016, click HERE.)
- Palliative Care — Palliative Care (also called “end-of-life” care) began in 2007 with funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and trained 240 Community Health Workers from 24 villages in the delivery of palliative care services to terminally ill people in their villages. Over time the program added training in home-based care. Empower Tanzania completed its involvement in the program in 2015, but a limited version continues with the support of the Tanzanian Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.