Eustela is the head nurse of St. Francis hospital in rural Kilombero, Tanzania. She stands proudly against the blue clinic walls and sends a wide smile into the camera as she delivers the following message to VSI and our supporters:
“On behalf of the mothers of this village and all parts of Kilombero, we very much thank you for thinking and remembering us here at the periphery to get such a good thing with miso. The mothers are happy and their families are happy. And also the hospital is happy now. If you continue, I think PPH (postpartum hemorrhage) will no longer be the top killer of mothers. Asante sana.”
We spoke with Eustela in March 2011 at the closing of the misoprostol pilot program in Tanzania. Misoprostol, a simple and inexpensive medicine that prevents some of the leading causes of maternal death, had begun to make a memorable and positive impact on several small communities throughout the country. It was also during this time that the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare voiced support for our village-level program and advocated scaling up the distribution of misoprostol throughout the country to significantly reduce maternal deaths. In a country where an estimated 3,000 mothers die each year due to excessive bleeding after childbirth, scalable and profound action is needed to save lives.
A year later, our work in Tanzania continues as we embark on a new project that aims to assure the everyday availability of misoprostol for women countrywide. Having spent the past 16 months conducting qualitative and quantitative assessments to identify the conditions for everyday availability, we are now ready to let our findings inform practice. Over the next year we will be working with local partners and the Tanzanian government to implement targeted activities to improve women’s access to misoprostol, building upon all that we have achieved together so far. And all with a goal of keeping mothers and families, like those Eustela cares for, happy and healthy. The support from advocates like you pushes our programs forward and ensures that more women receive essential care and maternal health supplies. We hope you will continue to stand with us as we begin this new leg of our journey, because together we are stronger and can do more.