Health and Nutrition

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Expanded Programme on Immunisation

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Caring for the community’s children as she would her own

 UNICEF Eritrea/2012/Thompson
© UNICEF Eritrea/2012/Thompson
Nurse Nigsti at the Amatere Health Facility.

By Charlene Thompson

June 2012 - Nurse Nigsti comforts a crying child, reassures a mother and then very quickly shifts her attention and demeanour to meet with Ministry of Health officials to update them on her work at the Maternal Child Health facility at the Amatere Health Facility in Massawa. The Amatere Health Facility is one of 249 maternal, child health (MCH) facilities in Eritrea, operated by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF. Currently the government is scaling up these centres to ensure all pregnant women and newborns have access to visit these clinics.

Visiting the Amatere Health Facility, one can understand the need to increase the number of these facilities. There were approximately 15 mothers and babies waiting to see Nurse Nigsti. “On a typical day I see about 20-25 pregnant women, newborns and children under 5,” she said. “I perform MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) screenings, check their weight, height and I also counsel mothers on breastfeeding and hygiene,” she continued and then after a pause said “sometimes I even speak to the mothers about the children’s education and the importance of going to school.”

Nigsti Tsegay lives only 15 minutes away from the Amatere Health Facility and is herself a mother of three children. She says the Ministry of Health provides refresher training for her and her fellow nurses to ensure they are updated on the latest information so they can provide better care to the members of the community.

“When we are trained on the importance of pregnant women coming to the facility at least four times during their pregnancy, we can now tell pregnant women this information which can save their lives,” she said. “I love this job and I want to grow and become better in my work and be promoted,” she added. She then said something that is very often heard when you speak to many people working at health facilities in Eritrea, “I want to save the lives of the children in this community and see them grow up to be healthy.” 

 

 
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