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Fighting Maternal and Neonatal Mortality | Dr. Gwanyama Noella

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

An Aviva-Women-in-Science-Fund (AWSF) campaign to increase the uptake of Antenatal Consultation in the North West Region of Cameroon

Maternal and neonatal mortality is still a serious public health issue. No woman deserves to die while trying to give birth, and no child deserves to die without experiencing life. Collaboration and innovative ideas are vital in fighting this devastating public health issue.

We are super excited to share our progress on this. The maternal mortality ratio in Cameroon has improved from 651 in 2000 to 438 in 2020, which is still high. The North West Region (NWR) is experiencing a humanitarian crisis which has led to the displacement of many people. The situation has resulted in the collapse of essential services and infrastructure in some of the most affected areas. People in crisis-affected regions have limited access to healthcare. In 2021, the recorded number of maternal deaths in the NWR was 46, and among this, about 70-80% had no antenatal consultation. Currently, the antenatal coverage in the NWR stands at about 60%, which is low. Therefore, this pilot phase targets one out of 20 health districts in the North West Region, Wum Health District, which had the second highest number of maternal deaths in 2021, 6(13%). Thus, an increase in the number of quality antenatal consultations and education of pregnant women will go a long way to reducing the number of maternal and neonatal mortalities in the NW Region of Cameroon. Thanks to the Aviva Women In Science Fund Community Project, a grant program under Open Dreams, we are working to improve the situation on the ground. A point to note: Talk Pregnancy with Dr. Noella is the first organization to receive this grant. This fund is set aside to promote maternal and neonatal health through community engagement, research, and scholarship to medical students interested in neonatology.

Dr. Gwanyama Noella is the founder of "Talk Pregnancy with Dr. Noella" and a former Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Delaware, USA. Her remarkably profound knowledge and skills gained during her course in the United States on community engagement, strategizing, communication, and excellent network skills made this project a high standard. We trained five healthcare workers from Wum Health District and ten healthcare volunteers of TPWDN and Open Dreams to serve as ambassadors in the fight against maternal and neonatal mortality. These personnel included doctors, nurses, and community health workers.

We were graced with the presence of Dr. Ambe Lionel, the Focal Person for Sexual and Reproductive Health in the NW Region; Dr. Ombaku Kingsley, an Obstetrician Gynecologist in the Regional Hospital Bamenda and Mr. Azang Linvingstone, the Head of the Labor Room Regional Hospital Bamenda. This gave the participant first-hand knowledge of the standards of care a woman needs during labor and delivery, high-risk pregnant women to ensure early referral in case of complications, and lastly, the role of Community Health workers in the fight against maternal and neonatal mortality.

Finally, these healthcare workers were awarded a certificate as ambassadors in the fight against maternal and neonatal mortality. These ambassadors were thrilled and ready to combat maternal mortality in their community like never before.

The second phase of the project will be to screen 200 pregnant women in the Wum Health District to identify the number of women who have not attended any Antenatal Care (ANC) session, identify those with complications after screening for urinary tract infection, malaria, and pre-eclampsia, and manage or refer early enough. Lastly, those who have never done an ultrasound scan will benefit from one. This will go a long way to bring out those women who have never done ANC to have first contact with a healthcare professional and for continuation of care. Thus improving maternal health and finally decreasing maternal and neonatal mortality.

Thanks to Cristina Bernardo Kullberg, Hans Kullberg, Blaise Buma & James Akaba for allowing us to serve our community, and the entire global Open Dreams Family for being a part of the phenomenal Aviva Women in Science (AWSF) Initiative. We look forward to offering assistance to more pregnant women in our country and the world at large.

-Dr Gwanyama Noella|Founder TPWDN|Mandela Washington Fellow 2023.


Project Team: Niegem Mbwame (Aviva Scholar, Faculty of Health Science, University of Bamenda), Nji Nigel Timah, Gamnje Standly, Mukoh Walters, Amabo Carrey, Angyiembe Edna, Sama Nestor, Awah Rashel, Awah Cynthia , Milos Emile, Kimbi Randy, Manestop Ornella, Kelei Pauline, Akems Shanticlear, Ayeah Deoin, Mutop Justine.


Special thanks to the Director of the Regional Hospital Bamenda, Dr. Nsame Denis

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