Kakata, Margibi County – Community Healthcare Initiative-CHI, a local NGO into health and advocacy Wednesday conducted a one-day consultative maternal health meeting in partnership with the Margibi Health Team to brainstorm on how the relationship between Train Traditional Midwives-TTM and Medical facilities in Margibi County can be strengthen.
Giving an overview of the meeting, the Executive Director of CHI, Naomi T. Solanke explained that CHI as a healthcare organization has realized that TTM though not lettered like Professional Midwives also play a key role in contributing towards strengthening the healthcare system in Liberia.
“They are the ones doing referrals; they are the ones living in the community with the pregnant women; they are the ones supporting the pregnant women until the pregnant women get full term,” explained Madame Solanke.
She continued: “but within our law there is no compensation for the TTMs instead there is harsh punishment there for them.”
Grand Bassa and Monsterrdo counties are expected to benefit from the same consultative meeting in the coming weeks.
The CHI boss furthered that the main focus of the meeting was to look at challenges faced by communities as it relates to maternal mortality and how they[communities] can work together in partnering with the County health system in ensuring that maternal mortality decreases.
She added that before western medicine or civilization, there were TTMs “these people were providing services within the communities so why are we demonizing them, I think we just need to build on their skills in ensuring that we strengthen the traditional practice along with the western practice for a healthy society.”
Madame Solanke also said that, because the common goal of both traditional and western cultures when it comes to reducing maternal mortality is good health, both sides have to work together to become partners in ensuring they both contribute effectively to the health sector.
These meetings are a part of activities under the project titled: “strengthening the health system while challenging colonialism,” which is being funded by the Open Society in West Africa-OSIWA.
According to the background of the meeting, Margibi was chosen as one of the counties to begin said consultation because it [Margibi] is rated as the second highest when it comes to maternal mortality in Liberia.
From 2020 to present, Margibi has recorded 19 maternal deaths.
According to the CHI boss, it is expected that at the end of the meeting Trust will be built between the communities and the health facilities and that TTM will feel a part of the health system. Also, that they [TTM] will commit in ensuring that most of the pregnant women receive prenatal services and are attended to by trained health professional.
Also speaking, the County Health Officer-CHO of Margibi County, Dr. Myer Pajibo described the meeting as ‘a great opportunity to sit down with the community and get their views on how we can address the issue of maternal death.’
“This is the first step. This meeting will open up a lot of things that we can discuss besides maternal health,” stated Dr. Pajibo.
The CHO of Margibi acknowledged that there have been some issues arising in health facilities specifically among TTM and facility staff that has brought conflict to said party’s relationship in promoting maternal health care.
“We been having information coming from our facility at the same time we’ve had informal meetings with TTM and issues that came out from some of the referrals made at the medical facilities were that staffs are not appreciative; sometimes the relationship is not cordial and on the overall they said that they are not respected by staff of the facilities,” he explained.
He continued: “they are often left out of the process when they accompany patients to the facility to make sure that they provide support; so not only the TTM, even the local leaders, they too have their concerns for the healthcare system and by holding this meeting today, we will be able to engage them properly.”
Some issues raised by both the TTMs and facilities staff at the training included, Ambulance contraints, lack of cooperation between the community, health facilities amongs others.
For her part, the County Malaria Advisor for USAID Strategic Technical Assistance for Improved Health System Performance and health outcomes-STAIP, Lawrentine N. Momoh stressed that the issue of maternal death is a national issue.
“We hope to put in place good plans and guidelines that will help us so that we will be able to erase and stop the issue of maternal mortality; it is not a crime for a woman to get pregnant and a woman should not die because she got pregnant,” she stressed.
Participants at the meeting included TTM, Traditional/community leaders, Members of the county health team, community members, Commissioners, Representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Participants were placed in groups to come up with a framework outlining some of the issues they are faced with and how they along with the community and medical facilities can continue to maintain a cordial relationship for the promotion of better results of maternal health care in Margibi County.
Amongst the many recommendations crafted by participants in their individual groups, improved health workers behavior to TTM, collective efforts by the community and compensations for TTM were some of the issues highlighted.