In the first trimester of her third pregnancy, Patricia Simeon of Njerenje Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nkaya in Balaka had swollen feet.
The 26-year-old says while she experienced the puffiness of hands and feet in her previous pregnancies, this time, it was accompanied by headache and dizziness.
As the baby bump grew, Simeon says the ailments became unbearable, but she thought it was too early to seek medical attention.
“Pregnant women here go to the hospital in the seventh or eighth month. I decided to begin ante natal in my sixth month,” she says.
However, as she waited, she was visited by a World Vision volunteer Mussa Bakali who asked her to go to Phimbi Health Centre.
The organisation has 56 community volunteers in its Time Targeted Counselling (TTC) initiative under its Maternal, New Born and Child Health (MNeCH) project.
Bakali noted that Simeon’s condition was life threatening.
She was given iron supplements, antimalarial drugs and mosquito net.
The mother of four children later delivered twin boys who are now one-year and nine months old.
Elled Fuleya, the area’s health surveillance assistant (HSA), commends the intervention.
“Pregnant women are seeking antenatal care services early. This has reduced maternal mortality rate as they are taught how to deal with pregnancies better,” he says.
According to records at Phimbi Health Centre, the number of women from Njerenje Village visiting antenatal clinics in first trimester has moved from 122 in 2019 to 312 in 2020.
For Clara Palikena, World Vision development facilitator in Nkaya Area, she says the intervention complements their efforts in improving children’s welfare.
“Mothers here, including Simeon are experiencing improved outcomes of pregnancy, child health and development,” she says.