Located about 120 kilometres north of the Tanzanian capital Dodoma enroute to Babati or Arusha, a hospital in Chemba District stands conspicuosly to serve people of the place and its neighborhood. Despite a well-constructed tarmac road and cool breeze blowing along the way, it might take you close to two hours for safety considerations when you have a careful driver who doesn’t opt for a flat-out gas pedal. Along the way to this remote yet vibrant destination, you are bound to be fascinated by the breathtaking picture-resque of the colourful landscape beauty sparkling on either side of the Dodoma-Babati road. As you go, time happens to run surprisingly fast and unnoticed.
Noticeably, as you come close to this growing but still a low-density population township, Chemba, sparkling white-painted buildings add a special outlook to the hilly landscape silently blessing your arrival all the way. Here you are at the Chemba District Hospital with its Medical Officer (DMO) “Dr. Deogratius Baltazari Masim” extending a warm welcome to you and second to none brand of hospitality.
He is in charge of medical activities with a well organised team capable of planning and coordinating your visit with key briefings ahead of starting the field exploration. Dr. Masim has been excited to host the Mkapa Foundation team while opening a wide smile. “Whenever I see the Mkapa Foundation I feel that they are one family with the people of Chemba”, he said.
Established in 2013, the Chemba District Council is one of the eight district councils of Dodoma City.
Before MFP III made an intervention three years ago, Dr Masim admits that medical services in this particular district left much to be desired . The district was Characterised by inadequate manpower that led to poor health services and facilities placed the people of Chemba at great health risks. They endured torrid moments only for Mkapa Foundation to timely step in as top class saviour.
The Mkapa Foundation project got underway with deployment of 9 skilled health care providers in 9 health facilities and 114 Community Health Workers in all 114 villages of Chemba District. “The skilled manpower has been keen in improving the quality of facilities in our facilities coupled with accessibility of services to the marginalized communities. The Community Health Workers deployed to our villages have been extremely helpful in creating a great link between our facilities and communities. They have been very instrumental in sending out the proper health education to the communities that address negative myths, beliefs and customs thus improving the utilization of health services especially for the pregnant women and children” Says Dr. Masim.
Dr. Masim’s testimony has been backed by District Health Secretary Aziza Hamisi. Complimenting Dr. Masim’s words, M/s Aziza says that the district had a critical shortage of Skilled Healthcare Workers and some of the facilities in the District were still under control of the Medical Attendants. She says “When the MFP III gave us 9 new skilled healthcare workers it sounded like we just picked up a piece of diamond from an open ground.. We were overjoyed… while assigning them stations to cover the likes of Mwailanje dispensary that were inoperative. It was no surprise that villagers endured a walk up to seven kilometres in search of health care services. HOWEVER, with the support from MFP III that works closely with the Government, these communities can finally get the services nearer or within their catchment area.”
Stressing more on the program contribution is Ms. Tatu Rashidi, a District Coordinator for Reproductive and child health. Ms Tatu expressed how the Maternal and Child Health indicators have significantly changed since the initiation of the project in Chemba. She says “…before the project most pregnant women booked for their first Antenatal Visit 12 weeks AHEAD of pregnancy but now the numbers have changed from 13% of the women who started ANC before 12 weeks in 2018 to 19% in 2019 and it went up to 24% in 2020”.
For the other indicators such four or more hospital visits for pregnant women and facility delivery
Ms. Tatu says “…in 2018 it was just 44% of pregnant women who had four or more visits to the health facility but in 2019 we had 66% and in 2020 we had 73%…we have also observed changes in terms of facility delivery, in 2018 there were only 34% of facility delivery it went up to 48% in 2019 and in 2020 we had 52%. All these have been largely contributed upon by the facility and community level initiatives that the MFP III have been implementing”
Ms. Tatu Rashidi believes that the MFP III has improved the medical services from where they were three years ago. She is positive that this year they will see a much higher rise in the indicators which they regard as a success to the District of Chemba and its people.
The Mkapa Foundation took the Mkapa Fellows Program Phase III to Chemba DC for the purpose of improving the healthcare services and the lives of people of Chemba, a mission that has made a significant improvement as contrasted to the past three years.