Once upon a time there was a young woman named Josefina that lived with her husband in a village near a river and they had a farm with vegetables. The woman was very strong and energetic, but her husband was a selfish man and he would not let the woman go out.
However, one day, the woman began to feel different and a week later she learned that she was pregnant. One afternoon, she waited for her husband to come home from the farm and when he arrived, she said:
- I have a surprise for you...
- Uh? What are you going to bother me with now?
- Congratulations...You’re going to be a dad.
- What? Are you insane? We’re not ready to have children. No!
- But I’m already pregnant, I have to go to a health center.
- Xii... I do not trust those centers and I am not sure I want to have children yet.
The young Josefina became very sad and worried for the health of her baby. Days passed and she secretly wrote a letter that she then gave to her neighbor who was going to the village where her sister Sophia, a traditional midwife, lived.When she received the message she worried for her sister and got ready to go search for her.
The village was a few hours away on foot, and Aunt Sophia became more and more worried. Her instincts told her something was wrong, and she wasn’t fooled. Josefina was sick, she thought the headaches and the vomiting were symptoms of her pregnancy. She was lucky when her sister Sofia arrived, because she had a threat of miscarriage. Her husband became scared and had gone to get help, but it was past noon and he had not returned.
Aunt Sophia had come with her eldest son and between the two of them they carried the woman to the health center that was in a district many hours away from the village. It was a long journey but they got help from a truck driver they found on the road that took them there.
When they there arrived, Josefina rapidly received attention, they took all the tests and exams diagnosing malaria, having been treated with urgency.
Because of the malaria she was anemic and was advised to improve her nutrition. She remained in the health center for three days until the doctors were sure that her baby would be alright and that he would not be born with problems of low weight.
Aunt Sophia, who had stayed with her all this time, took a deep breath and hugged her sister. The doctors discharged her and together they travelled to the village where they had been born. Grandma Elisa was waiting for them there. Grandma Elisa was happy to receive her pregnant daughter and she committed to taking care of her and the soon coming baby.
Josefina’s husband came to look for her.When he arrived at Grandma Elisa’s house, patient and wise as she was, she authorized him to visit her daughter twice a week. The days the husband would come to visit, Grandma Elisa would take the opportunity to tell him the same story over and over again.
A man was in a village very angry with his son and was looking for a proper punishment when in that moment a wise man passed and asked the man.
- What is your heart feeling right now?
- I feel like I have two hyenas fighting in my heart. One is very upset and the other is full of love and forgiveness. Who do you think will win the fight?
The wise man answered: The one you feed the most
Months passed and the woman’s husband began to slowly change the way he thought. The woman slept under a mosquito net that served as a shield for her and the baby. She ate well and never missed a doctor’s appointment. She got preventive treatment against malaria and vaccines that turned her into a fortress, difficult to take down by any disease. In the house for expectant mothers "Casa mãe espera"of the health center,the doctor and nurses would joke about her super baby, because she was so healthy. Aunt Sophia liked going with her to learn more about being a midwife.
When the day to give birth arrived, the husband was there in the "Casa mãe espera"and in that clean and safe place, a healthy baby girl was born, with tiny chubby hands. Her first cry was loud, a representation of life and hope. Her dad could not believe how much joy he felt, he was so excited that he began to cry.
Aunt Sofia helped duringchildbirth, as a traditional midwifeassistant and itwas her who gave the baby to her mother. The young woman reached her arms towards her baby girl and hugged her with all the tenderness and infinite love only a mother can have. The second she felt her mother’s heat, the little one calmed down, she moved around searching for comfort and then by instinct placed her tiny head on her mother’s left breast to feel the drums of her heart. Only then could she satisfy her monumental hunger with the yellowish and transparent liquid that came from the fountain that was that young woman’s breast. The little girl’s face lightened with the food we call colostrum that was a blessing from the gods, the first elixir of life, full of nutritional magic.
The girl received the vaccines she needed on her first days and was registered to guarantee her right to Health and Social Protection. The parents named the girl Vitória.
That was me. My mother told me I was very aware of everything that happened around me. She also told me that, like all babies, I could communicate with my cries and happy or sad faces, both worked with everybody.My parents stayed together and we went to live in the village.They were always close, taking care of me. My mother only fed me with breastmilk during my first six months of life. She tells me she would argue with my father because he wanted me to eat yucca, but it’s not very nutritious.
They would always go together to my health checks and never forgot a single vaccine I needed. The village grew and now we are a large community. I have my friends and since school started a while back, I will begin to study and I think I’m going to like learning new things.
Anyway, the weekend before school started we went to visit Grandma Elisa. That afternoon she told me what she would always tell my father when she would finish her story.
“Father is not who gives life that is easy, father is he who is capable of giving love.”
With the technical support of UNICEF there was an expansion in the number of Community Health Workers(APEs) from 2,225 in 2013 to 2,747 at the end of 2014, and their abilities to deal with neo-natal and infant health and other nutrition questions in the community were strengthened. The data from 2014 show that APEs made home visits to about 2.4 million people, of whom about a million were children under five years of age, and about 817,000 people benefited from treatment for malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
In 2014, UNICEF provided technical and financial support for the organisation of two National Health Weeks (SNS), which benefitted more than 4 million children under the age of five in each of the rounds. This guaranteed an increase in the national coverage of provision of Vitamin A, deworming and vaccinations, as well as the number of children registered. These two SNS were also an opportunity to strengthen the coverage of new users of Family Planning.
The UNICEF contribution to interventions concerned with universal access to malaria control in 2014 was through the distribution of mosquito nets treated with long lasting insecticide in Zambézia and Gaza provinces. This contribution benefitted almost 1,600,000 people, of whom 268,000 were children. UNICEF also supported Tete and Zambézia provinces in the purchase and distribution of medicines for at least two doses of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) of malaria for pregnant women. This represents a coverage of 51 % (Tete) and 57% (Zambézia) of pregnant women with at least two doses of IPT, compared with 44% nationally.
In 2014 UNICEF supported the vaccination programmes technically, financially and with cold chain equipment, contributing so that 97% of children under one year old were vaccinated with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Ninety-one (91) percent of children under one year old were also vaccinated against measles.
UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health (MISAU) in updating the Cold Chain Plan to attend to the needs and capacities for introducing three new vaccines in 2015 (Rotavirus, IPV, and the second dose of the measles vaccine). This support included the acquisition of 75% of the equipment necessary for the cold chain.