Strengthen girls, reduce the number of early pregnancies
Nazaria Baptista is an expert in sexual health. At the health center in Ncumpe (northern Mozambique) she talks to young women and men about family planning and contraception.
Consulting is done with a lot of empathy and passion
Teenage girls sit on the floor of the room, wrapped in colorful cloths and dresses. Behind them are a number of men who accompany their partners. One of them carries his child in a sling on his back. Leaning against the left wall of the room are three older ladies: traditional midwives from the village who accompany the women and their partners to the health center for check-ups.
The attention in the room belongs to Nazaria Baptista, who overlooks the whole room from her desk. Her energetic, persuasive and empathetic manner captivates everyone. Nazaria informs those present about family planning. With great accuracy, the 49-year-old explains the use of different contraceptives: condoms, femidoms, three-month injections or the pill. The women and also their partners ask questions, which Nazaria Baptista answers with great patience and empathy. "These consultation appointments are very important," she says afterwards. "Because contraceptives play a decisive role in increasing the interval between two pregnancies. This protects the health of the young women. Pregnancies too close together increase the risk of pregnancy and birth complications.
Geographic barriers, social barriers and their consequences
Normally, every prenatal check-up includes a conversation about contraception. But many women do not take this appointment until the seventh month shortly before the birth. "That is too late," says Baptista. The four prenatal appointments would be important for early detection of possible complications. "And it would then also be more time before the birth to talk about family planning issues".
But many of the women have to walk miles to even reach the health center. A difficult undertaking, especially during pregnancy. This makes SolidarMed's work in the villages all the more important. "The educational work on contraception and the risks of teenage pregnancy must be expanded at all costs," Nazaria Baptista demands in the interview. Because sexual education in schools is not enough.
Moreover, in many places in Mozambique, girls have to leave school after their first menstruation. This often results in pregnancy and marriage at a very young age. Only occasionally do parents come with their daughters to the health center to obtain contraceptives. Although Nazaria would like to see a change in this social phenomenon, she doubts that far-reaching changes can take place soon.