Go to the PLAN Malawi web site for background information
and a more comprehensive look at its programs.
   (Click on the photos above to see more articles)
Traditional Birth Attendant
In the small maternity clinic at Kachinda, Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) Elvin Chirwa proudly displays a small bathroom scale. The scale is a vital piece of equipment, for every Wednesday expectant mothers and those who have already conceived line up to be weighed. Many come from surrounding villages and one or two have even crossed over the border from Zambia.
Elvin Chirwa plays an indispensable role in maintaining the welfare of Kachinda's newborn children in addition to the well-being of the mothers. With an average monthly birth delivery rate of 16 babies and 40 pre-natal and post-natal mothers to check, her role is an unenviable one. But the small, energetic woman does not complain. Thanks to PLAN MALAWI her midwife duties will soon be made easier though she will be no less busy. Not far from the small, dark and cramped maternity hut a new building has been erected and will soon be in operation.

New Maternity Building
I am given a guided tour of the new maternity quarters by this proud Malawian midwife. She points out enthusiastically the two-bed labour ward, the pre-natal and post-natal examination rooms and other rooms vital to the birthing process. Nearby is a new latrine and adjacent shower room for the mothers.
Elvin's training was facilitated by PLAN MALAWI. The knowledge gained and the staggering fact that in her two years as TBA at Kachinda she has not lost a child or mother during birth has brought Elvin no small measure of respect. She is known far and wide and through her reputation draws clients from some 60 villages. Mothers arrive some five months into pregnancy and continue to attend post-natal sessions for sometime after.

Elvin Chirwa, Traditional Birth Attendant
Through training and experience she has learned to diagnose complications such as the positioning of the child in the womb and problems such as low haemogloblin, or poor blood circulation and weight loss. When complications are diagnosed, Elvin wastes no time in referring the mother to the Kaluluma Health Center, or if the mother can afford to the mission hospital at Nkamenya some 20kms away. The difficulties in transporting the expectant mother has brought the introduction of a novel mode of transport, a bicycle-operated 'bush' ambulance. As for the instruments of diagnosis Elvin uses listening and touch.
With her remarkable maternity record one must surmise that this dedicated midwife listens well and has developed that special maternal touch!
The visit to Kachinda has been short but revealing. It seems that each visit I make to Malawi's rural areas I hear the same message, "give us the tools" (or facilititation) "and we'll do the job". Kachinda is no exception. With their current development activities and with PLAN MALAWI'S assistance the community's future for now looks bright.
For more information, email Joseph Ndengu - joseph.ndengu@plan-international.org
Read and participate in a discussion about this article
PLAN Malawi web site
Next | Previous | Top