Lois Hough in Africa: "How do they determine who gets life-saving treatment?"

Reporter:

Lois Hough

Leader reporter Lois Hough is in Tanzania this week to see the work of Save The Children. Today she tells of her first encounter with mothers and babies receiving the charity’s help

WE WAKE before sunrise to catch our flight to rural Mtwari in the south of Tanzania.

I hear the Muslim call to prayer ringing through the streets as I pack my things.

Even at this hour the traffic on route to the airport is a nightmare.

As we crawl through the queues, a one-armed man approaches our jeep and begs for money. Shortly after a teenage girl with her blind mother scratches at our windows, desperate for a shilling.

I start to panic but our Tanzanian driver does not bat an eyelid. He must see this every day.

We make it just before check in closes and cram like sardines into the tiny aircraft that will take us deep into the countryside. We arrive at Mtwari Airport an hour later and head straight for Ligula Hospital.

The hospital caters for one million people in the Mtwari and Lindi district and offers a vital service to new mothers.

We learn about a Save The Children project called Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) where new mums act as human incubators for their underweight and premature offspring.

Babies are strapped to their mother’s chest and receive a constant supply of heat and breast milk to help them grow.

Samoa Salama, 35, gave birth to twins six days ago. Samoa is being offered the care to help her little ones, weighing 1.38g and 2kg.

We ask the names of the brother and sister, but are told the babies aren’t given names until the seventh day in case they don’t survive.

Hearing this brings it all home.

There is only room in the hospital to offer this care to three mums. How on earth do they determine who gets this life-saving treatment?

British epidemiologist Suzanne Penfold tells me that more fundraising could pay for more beds in the KMC ward.

Afterwards we head to the village of Lindi where we chat with members of the Children’s Council.

These bright youngsters have been elected by their peers to represent the young community and fight for their rights.

I spoke to Hufna Ally, 12, who says her proudest achievement was going house-to-house to ensure children had received their important vaccines.

She says she wants to be a president when she’s older.

Tariq Hamza, 13, says he joined the council as he was impressed with the work that they do in the community. He would like to become a social worker. I’m so humbled.

Tomorrow we will meet charity directors to discuss what can be done to raise more awareness.

See full story in the Leader

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