Badien Gokhs, literally meaning " community godmothers", work as a focal point on maternal health information. They are trained to raise awareness on maternal health care in their village and help identify women needing to be transported to a health centre to give birth.
Once the training has been completed, they each receive a mobile phone which they can use to coordinate with the health centre and midwives and to call for help during an emergency. This month, sixty ‘community godmothers’ or Badien Gohks in Kedougou received mobile phones bringing the total to 120 Badien Gohks in 2010.
“For us this is the priority right now,” said Dr Sene, head of Kedougou medical region. “Many areas are very isolated, so women have difficulty in reaching the health centre when they go into labour. They often wait till there is a complication before seeking help.”
In order to further reduce delays in accessing medical care, a motorbike ambulance has been specially designed to transport patients.
“When there is an emergency the Badien Gohk calls us at the health centre” explained Maktar Mansali head nurse of Bandafassi health post where the ambulance trike donated by WAHA is based. “A nurse or midwfe will go with the ambulance and evaluate whether the patient should give birth in the health post or be transported to Kedougou where obstetric care is available.”
After several months of testing the ambulance, the driver has been proposing modifications to improve the next series of trike ambulances WAHA will be making. He will also be training future drivers on using the trike.
“Community participation and the role of Badien Gohks is a key component of our strategy to reduce maternal death,” concludes Dr. Sene. “Partnering with WAHA International has been a very productive experience, as WAHA offers concrete solutions to the needs we identify.”
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