Supporting Health Care and Helping Women and Children in Indonesia

Feature | 11 August 2011

Rosni, 24 years old, is expecting her first child in three months time. Unlike other expectant mothers before her, Rosni does not have to rely on a traditional birth attendant or travel far for prenatal care. Instead, she had been going for her regular check-ups at a newly-constructed health post in her village, Baji Mangngai, which opened three months ago. "I like the midwives and the facility here. It is closer to my house than the health center that I used to visit," said Rosni. In the past, the 6,000 inhabitants of Baji Mangngai village in South Sulawesi province had to travel about 8 kilometers away for health care. But the new health post not only serves as a delivery room for mothers but also provides basic medical care, immunizations and community awareness about diarrhea and infectious diseases, which have plagued the village. The village health post is one of 732 in Indonesia constructed under the Decentralized Health Services 2 Project, financed by the Asian Development Bank. It is part of the national Desa Siaga Program or Alert Village Program, which strengthens maternal, neonatal and child health services at the village level. The project is being implemented in 90 districts in nine provinces across Indonesia. Maternal mortality has been a common problem in villages like Baji Mangngai, and many babies have been born with a low birth weight. Last year two women died during labor due to complications caused by high blood pressure that was not detected during the last semester of the pregnancy. Responding to an emergency situation has been difficult, particularly with some women living in remote areas. But since the construction of the health post, five healthy babies have been born and in the next six months, it is expected that at least 30 mother will deliver at the centre. "Pregnant women now have a better option than to deliver their baby at home," said Yenny Farida, one of two midwives living and working at the clinic. With the health centre built on land and with materials donated by the community, the program has also helped stimulate local participation in Baji Mangngai. A community forum has been established, which regularly meets to find solutions to health issues such as funding. The forum has also set up an around-the-clock alert system to provide support for pregnant women during an emergency situation, as well as a list of potential blood donors if needed. "We still have a long way to go to have a healthier community," said Pak Desa Rabanur, the village head. "People have started to use the health facility. It is a good sign, I am sure more good things will follow. "