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Improving health services and facilities available to local communities is one of the top priorities of the Zalala Foundation. To date, our main focus has been on Idugo. Currently, the only health services available to the 10,000 inhabitants of this island are two community-based health workers working door-to-door and the services of a Mobile Health Brigade comprising a team of health workers who visit the island whenever weather and other circumstances allow. After vigorous fundraising efforts, a grant has been received from the Japanese Embassy in Mozambique for the building of a Maternity Centre on the island and construction of the centre is now underway. Zalala Foundation funds have also been committed to financing the water supply and housing for the health staff who will be based there.

Building a Health Centre for Idugo

The people of Idugo have long been clamouring for a health centre on the island. Mothers, infants, the old and infirm can not make the long and often treacherous journey across the river to the nearest hospital. The lack of accessible medical care and treatment results in unnecessary loss of life. That is why we firmly believe that a Health Centre on the island is essential. To this end, the Zalala Foundation, with the full backing of the Provincial Health Department in Zambezia, has joined forces with Save the Children and others to raise the funds required.

Funding has been secured for a Maternity Unit on the Island!

Following our success in raising money for the building of a school in Supinho from the Humanitarian Grant Assistance Programme of the Embassy of Japan in Maputo, we decided to apply again, this time for the funding of a Maternity Unit on Idugo Island. After several unsuccessful attempts, in September 2020, we received the wonderful news that our project proposal has been approved. Currently, the vast majority of women on the island seek the services of traditional birth attendants, who lack the training and facilities to ensure safe delivery. According to the local community-based workers, over one third of babies are still born and over one in every ten women die of birth complications. During the winter period when there are strong currents, boats carrying women in labour across the waters to the nearest maternity facility frequently capsise resuling in the loss of life of all the passengers. Thus, the news that a maternity unit will soon be available on the island has been met with enormous relief and jubilation. After construction, local community volunteers will be trained as maternal, newborn and child health nurses. Additional services to be provided include training for local midwives, advice on nutrition and diet, access to HIV testing and treatment and a wide range of other health-related services for local inhabitants.

The signing of the contract between the Government of Japan and the Zalala Foundation

The launch of the project was marked by an official ceremony attended by the Japanese Ambassador in Quelimane at the end of December 2020. The event was attended by community and local leaders from Idugo, the Zalala Foundation Team and Government representatives of all the relevant Ministries and Departments – the Health Ministry, Public Works department and the Department for Women and Social Services.

The local leaders expressed their happiness that the long awaited health facility on the island is finally about to become a reality. The Ambassador gave a rousing speech and spoke of his own experience growing up on a remote island with no health facilities and could therefore identify very strongly with the people of Idugo.

The launch of the project and the transport of goods to the site

The transport of materials to the island involved first getting them on trucks to the port of Supinho. Then, unloading the materials from the trucks and onto the dugout canoes that were used to transport them across the river to Idugo. The arduous task of rowing to the opposite shore was undertaken by Idugo boat-owners. Upon arrival, men, women and children all contributed their labour to unload the canoes and transport the materials to the construction site.

Getting started

By early April, the work of construction was swiftly set in motion. Facilities were provided on the site and the building crew settled in and the work began swiftly and efficiently.

All hands on deck!

With the support of all the community – women, men and children – who all helped to transport the bricks, stones and other building materials to the site, the construction has got off onto a good start. The women sing songs expressing their joy and happiness at the prospect of the completion of the long awaited maternity unit and their heavy loads seem light by comparison!

Construction advancing rapidly
The need for a complete Health Centre

Whilst we are celebrating this first significant step forward, there is still a need for a complete health centre comprising: a consultation block, maternity unit, water and waste treatment facilities, staff housing and a surrounding fence. To this end, Save the Children has joined forces with the Zalala Foundation to support our efforts to raise the funding required. The Health Centre project is strongly backed by the Provincial and District Health authorities in the area, who will provide technical support and monitoring of the construction and will cover the cost of the salaries and ongoing supervision of the health staff based to be based in the Centre.

Please support our efforts

The people of Idugo are counting on us to help save lives and bring lasting health benefits to the thousands of men, women and children living on the island. In order to fulfil our pledge to the people of Idugo, we need your support. Please give generously!