Caroline Mtani is fierce about helping mothers and babies
By Alison Brundrett, Touch Foundation
“I have devoted most of my work to serving the disadvantaged, pregnant women and children under the age of five.”
Working in an under-resourced facility, Caroline Mtani is often exhausted by her day’s work. But she still finds herself spending any free moment she has in the maternity ward. “When I see the baby is drinking and is active, I feel happy. No one has the spare time to spend with the babies, but I enjoy it,” she said.
Caroline Mtani in the Maternity Ward at Sengerema Designated District Hospital. Courtesy Sala Lewis.
Caroline Mtani is boundlessly energized by her work at Sengerema Designated District Hospital, a rural hospital in Tanzania. Caroline has worked at the district hospital for her entire medical career, spanning nearly three decades. For the first 20 years, Caroline worked as a nurse midwife. After the birth of her second child, and with support from her husband, Caroline decided to get her assistant medical officer diploma from the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences in Mwanza, Tanzania. The diploma allowed her to provide the full spectrum of maternal care, including cesarean-sections.
Deciding to pursue the advanced diploma was not an easy choice as it required her to leave her two young children and husband and move to Mwanza for two years of challenging studies. Caroline succeeded in obtaining her diploma and returned to work with the Sengerema district hospital to provide care to mothers, newborns, and other patients in this underserved area.
Touch first partnered with Sengerema in 2013. Tanzania continues to face a severe shortage of frontline health workers like doctors, nurse midwives and assistant medical officers. Touch’s Treat & Train program tackles this gap in Tanzania’s health system. The Treat & Train Network connects hospitals and training facilities so that medical and nursing students can gain valuable hands-on experience during clinical rotations while also helping to provide better care to patients in under-resourced health facilities.
With her wealth of knowledge about the Lake Zone’s medical facilities as well as a drive to bring impassioned healthcare workers to the Sengerema district hospital and the surrounding area, Caroline, the co-coordinator of the program, is essential to the success of Treat & Train.
Four years after Treat & Train began at Sengerema Caroline continues to pursue her goal of bringing positive change to her community through better health services. She is the National Facilitator for the Helping Babies Breathe training program at SDDH as well as the clinician in charge of maternal issues and the Supervisor of the Mobilizing Maternal Health Program.
Caroline reflected that “Touch is like family.” These deep, trust-based relationships with our local partners are the heart of what we do at Touch and key to sustainable change. Caroline has facilitated a meaningful partnership between Touch and Sengerema out of a personal drive to empower her own patients and her fellow frontline health workers. She continues to strive towards the goal of creating an ever stronger Sengerema district hospital and Tanzanian health system, a goal we can proudly say we share and are working together to achieve.