By Stephanie Murphy, Canadian Red Cross aid worker, Nhamatanda, Mozambique
 
Fatima Olympia is a nurse with advanced training at Nhamatanda District Hospital in the labour and delivery ward. When Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, it brought destruction across the area, including to the hospital. In response, the Canadian Red Cross, with the support of the Finnish Red Cross, set up an emergency hospital in Nhamatanda to support the District Hospital with treating cholera and malaria.
 
In addition to this, the Red Cross is working with local hospital staff to improve quality of care in a variety of areas, including in labour and delivery. The district hospital has about 300 babies born each month, keeping the team of nurses and nursing students very busy.
Labour and delivery nurse Fatima with Canadian Red Cross aid worker Jaime Burgoyne. Red Cross aid workers have been providing guidance and mentorship to staff of the labour and delivery department to help improve quality of care and outcomes for mothers and babies.

Labour and delivery nurse Fatima with Canadian Red Cross aid worker Jaime Burgoyne. Red Cross aid workers have been providing guidance and mentorship to staff of the labour and delivery department to help improve quality of care and outcomes for mothers and babies.

For Fatima and her team, it’s valuable support. They’ve learned about different tests that can help demonstrate an expectant mother’s overall health. The Red Cross emergency hospital also included an oxygen concentrator and suction, which were donated to the labour and delivery ward. They can be used to help babies who have trouble breathing when they are first born, something that occurs in up to 10 per cent of all births. Before, these machines were only available in Beira, a larger city about two hours away, but now with continued training, the team at the district hospital will be able to use them when needed.
 
While new equipment can have a big impact, so can smaller, more routine changes. Aid worker Jaime Burgoyne from Brandon, Manitoba (pictured right with Fatima) explains that a lot of the work has been about “reinforcing existing healthcare principles, such as hand washing and the initial newborn resuscitation” to improve outcomes for mothers and babies.
 
Many of these are simple changes that can have long-term benefits, and the hope is that mentoring local staff will have positive impacts on the health of mothers and children well into the future. Fatima is grateful for the support they’ve received, saying “thank you for working together and for always helping us.”