International Medical Corps serves a population of more than 500,000 people in Central, West and South Darfur, providing health care services to promote child survival and improve maternal health among the most vulnerable groups.
We have been working in Um Khere, a remote area of Central Darfur, for many years, overcoming the challenges of building the capacity of health services in such an inaccessible region. In Um Khere there has historically been a low uptake of antenatal care services and the majority of pregnant women prefer to give birth at home assisted by traditional birth attendants (TBAs).
With the support of innovative funding from the European Commission, Stichting Vluchteling and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Medical Corps has piloted a non-cash incentive approach aimed at increasing the number of women that give birth in medical facilities, by training TBAs that have the trust of pregnant women, to refer those most at risk to our health centers.
The International Medical Corps team identified 96 TBAs in Um Khere and trained them on the importance of antenatal care and institutional, clean delivery and how to spot the danger signs in pregnancy. These TBAs were trained on how to refer pregnant women to our health facilities in the region. Through careful monitoring of the number of referrals by each TBA, International Medical Corps then provided non-cash incentives for TBAs such as soap and sugar.
Impact of the project
The number of institutional deliveries has started to rise since the implementation of the non-cash incentives project, and the number of referrals by TBAs has increased significantly. After delivery, these mothers referred by the TBAs were educated on the importance of exclusive breast feeding and other aspects of infant and young child feeding practices and immunization, which will also increase the chances of survival and health prospects of the mothers and children involved.