A famous woman to many in her home village in Kimokowua in Tanzania was Anna an old woman. Whenever women especially young women (child mothers) got into labor pain, Anna was the woman most women in the village looked for.
She had no professional skills and knowledge in midwifery. She was illiterate. An unskilled traditional birth attendant. Anna took charge in what she practiced and with so much confidence.
Many women and child mothers visited by her in their homes were mostly in labor pain. They trusted her work and most of them did not attend any hospital or clinic for antenatal checks and advice.
One of her clients was Sambeke’s wife. she was expecting her first born. Anna had visited her to help her like she did to others. She used her hands to tell the position of the child in a womb. Sambeke’s wife was in labor for too long until Anna could be seen worried and troubled. She did not give in to say she couldn’t help her. Anna kept on insisting that she will deliver any time soon. Sambeke’s wife had started becoming weak every minute of the long waiting.
She was taken to a nearby dispensary which was a few metres from their home. When I learned of what was going on I decided to check on Sambeke’s wife condition. She looked quite weak and needed a professional to attend to her. The situation was getting out of hand. A nurse in-charge advised Sambeke to take his wife to a hospital that had better facilities for help. Every time he tried to take his wife, Anna gave him hope that all was well. I thought how terrible it will be like to loose the young woman in such a situation. I talked to Anna to let go Sambeke’s wife to a better facility but she was very adamant.
I thought of what to do next. I bought Anna two kilograms of sugar in a nearby shop in appreciation to her effort. I then urged her to let Sambeke take his wife to hospital. Anna agreed. This was just in time for her operation through caesarean section. Sambeke’s wife delivered a baby boy.
Although traditional midwifery practice has been practiced for so long it is not always the safest way out; as in the case of Sambeke’s wife who represents many women who escape death narrowly. I love some of our traditions and culture but not when it live costing. Like in the case of Sambeke’s wife who narrowly escaped death by Anna heading to my advice.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the reasons for complications women in my community and country face. Most women from the Indigenous / Pastoralist communities undergo FGM. FGM narrows the delivery passage of most women. This complications arising from FGM have caused deaths that many times have gone unreported.
Women like Anna also risk contracting diseases due lack of protective measures. They mainly use bare hands when delivering women although they are advised not to do so by community health officers. We plan to organize training for traditional birth attendants who have not been trained.