Presentation to PAW Conference 2021
The Mozambique Canada Maternal Project had an excellent opportunity in early February to present our work at the People Around the World (PAW) 2021 conference, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan.
On Feb. 2-3, PAW gathered many in an important virtual event bringing together expert research, applied knowledge, and lived experiences to create a path forward for stronger, more resilient societies in the wake of COVID-19, and on the way to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030. A major question was Is it possible to tackle COVID-19 and leverage this moment of crisis to re-emerge stronger and united in our efforts to address the UN 2030 Agenda?
Our project preceded the presentation by The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development. The following day the keynote was delivered by Dr. Jeffery D Sachs, world-renowned economics professor and leader in sustainable development strategies.
Nazeem Muhajarine, project Principal Investigator and Jessie Forsyth, Project Director, co-presented on Progress and Prospects during a Pandemic.
Nazeem Muhajarine introduced the project, an initiative in Inhambane province in Mozambique, which engages the community and health system in development and in women’s empowerment. It is centred on improving lives of women and girls, by working in the communities they live, in the facilities they use, and in the health systems where decisions are made that impact their lives.
Jessie Forsyth, speaking from Mozambique, described the project’s efforts on the ground, in relation to the pandemic. “At present we’re seeing the government and health system really struggle to contain and respond to the spread of COVID infection. Within the project, we acted quickly to modify operations and think through how to respond proactively while keeping our team and project partners safe. By late March 2020, we had made internal changes to enable remote working wherever possible and to restrict office traffic; we made changes in our programming, especially with communities and health workers, to scale up prevention by reducing group interactions and increasing COVID-19 education; and in our partnership with the Provincial Directorate of Health to directly support their COVID-19 response however possible.”
She explained how in, “Both community and health system programming, we now incorporate COVID-19 prevention teaching into all activities. Monthly community meetings and school activities have all been on hold since last April, but our Community Support Workers – who are really our front-line workers – have continued to meet with smaller groups in order to disseminate COVID-19 information and preventive materials, hold health education sessions, support ongoing work in microprojects, and to support those women and girls in each community who are experiencing pregnancy or nearing childbirth.”
Project training for practitioners was also affected. “We initially put all clinical continuing education on hold until the team could assess how to implement training safely and we restricted the number of participants in any single session. We were able, however, to continue disseminating hospital materials and equipment to the health facilities in our 5 target districts and, importantly, continue with our construction plans. As a result, the project managed to complete construction of all new health infrastructure during COVID, which is a remarkable achievement. In relation to the provincial health department, we’ve supported training and strategy sessions for health workers and managers on COVID-19 and maternal health in particular, test sample collection throughout the province, and PPE procurement”.