Mauritania is vast, rural West African nation with few medical providers. Only half of all births are attended by a nurse, midwife or doctor, and preventable complications, such as eclampsia and torn placentas, contribute to the country’s high maternal and infant mortality rates. Through the Action for West Africa Region—Reproductive Health (AWARE-RH) Project, EngenderHealth worked to improve reproductive health, family planning, and child survival in Mauritania by focusing on three key areas:
- Advocating for health care policies that support maternal and neonatal health programs, and
- Mobilizing communities to support maternal and infant health
- Improving prenatal and obstetric practices
- Worked with Mauritania’s Ministry of Health to develop a national maternal and newborn health advocacy plan;
- Strengthened the infrastructure and added equipment at area health clinics in the Kaedi district and Golgol region to support maternal health care.
EngenderHealth and its partners worked with local village associations to expand the role of communities in the health of mothers and their babies. Community outreach educated women, men, and village elders to recognize:
- The signs of both healthy and unhealthy pregnancies;
- The benefits of prenatal care;
- The importance of having emergency transportation to a health center available for pregnant women. In Mauritania, where rural populations often live far from health centers, such advance planning is especially critical.
In addition, EngenderHealth’s initiatives led several villages in Kaedi to create a health savings system called Forfait Obstetrical, in which members save for the anticipated costs of obstetric care.
- Developing a curriculum outlining the “best practices” of obstetric care;
- Training trainers to share best practices nationwide.
- The initial three trainees eventually instructed 20 government reproductive health care providers at the Aleg district hospital.
- Increasing awareness about prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy;
- Supporting the Ministry of Health’s adoption of a new treatment protocol (sulfadoxine pyrimethamine) to prevent malaria in pregnant women.
EngenderHealth’s work in Mauritania ended in 2008.