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Dr. Huyaa: Expanding Reproductive Health Choices for Women and Girls

In the wee hours of the morning under a heavy spate of April rains, Esta Danieli Oda gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at Magugu Health Center, near where she lives in north-central Tanzania. Cuddling with their newborn-who joined four older sisters-Esta and her husband decided they were finished with childbearing.

In most other health facilities across Tanzania, Esta would have had to travel long distances to the nearest district hospital to obtain permanent female contraception.

But because of EngenderHealth's support in bringing higher-level services to lower-level facilities in Tanzania, Magugu Health Center has a dedicated minilaparotomy ("mini-lap") surgeon-which means that Esta can have the procedure done that day, before leaving the clinic with her new baby.

Meet Dr. Kornel Tsaxara Huyaa, a surgeon trained by EngenderHealth through the ACQUIRE Tanzania Project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dr. Huyaa joined Magugu Health Center less than one year ago. Yet already, his name comes up frequently, as a source of pride, in conversations around the clinic.

After all, Dr. Huyaa's technical training allows him to offer mini-lap surgery, a 10- to 12-minute outpatient procedure that involves making small 2cm incisions around the abdomen for tubal ligation.

EngenderHealth provides mini-lap training for surgeons to help make the service available for more women in hard-to-reach areas.

"EngenderHealth has played a big role in my medical experience," said Dr. Huyaa, 42, an amiable man who grows serious when speaking about his training. "Initially I wasn't trained for any kind of family planning, but after getting mini-lap training with support from EngenderHealth, I found myself being able to help clients here who need family planning methods, even long-term options. It is a great feeling."

While short-term methods of family planning-pills, condoms, and injectables-are commonly found at dispensaries and health centers, women who wish to postpone childbearing for several years or limit childbearing permanently are often referred to a higher-level facility, most of which are much farther away.

Dr. Huyaa has also received EngenderHealth-supported training on providing integrated, comprehensive reproductive health care, which enables him and his colleagues to provide a variety of additional services at the clinic, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, HIV care and treatment, and voluntary HIV testing and counseling.

"A mother who has HIV should not be sent somewhere else for other reproductive health services," he said, emphasizing the importance of his training in integrated services. "She should get everything at one table."

Dr. Huyaa also assists across the clinic, providing supervision and guidance on medical conditions that come up, which may require a higher level of technical knowledge. Asked if he has stories about memorable clients, he nods: "There are many."

He remembers one pregnant woman who rushed into the clinic, bleeding profusely and choked up with anxiety. She was in need of an emergency medical abortion.

Dr. Huyaa counseled and reassured the woman, telling her, "We're here to save you, you are in safe hands." Within 45 minutes, the woman safely expelled and the bleeding stopped.

One week later, the woman returned to the clinic to thank Dr. Huyaa. "If it wasn't for you, I would have died," she told him.

"That made me so happy," Dr. Huyaa said with a smile.

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