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Women at the Centre of the Health Sector Support

16.06.2017  06:56

Women at the Centre of the Health Sector Support


As part of the Health Sector Program Support phase V, the Danish Embassy supports five public-private partnerships. One of our partners is the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT). Denmark has recently disbursed the annual trance of 10 million DKK for our five-year program to support CCBRT’s work. Since the opening in 1994, the organisation has become the largest provider of disability and rehabilitation services in Tanzania. With the support from the Danish Embassy, CCBRT provides quality health services for disabled populations as well as improving maternal and newborn healthcare services. Thereby, CCBRT and the Danish Embassy share an overall vision of reducing poverty and inequality, as well as ensuring equitable delivery of quality social services, especially within health.



In 2007, due to CCBRT's success in disability and rehabilitative service delivery, the Government asked CCBRT to consider a Maternal and Newborn Hospital -- a project that is set to be completed in 2018.

Together, the two hospitals will provide a continuum of care model with a focus on prevention of disabilities such as obstetric fistula, treatment including emergency care and rehabilitation. On fistula, the need for action is evident. Each year, as many as 3,000 Tanzanian women develop obstetric fistula, a condition caused by prolonged, obstructed labour. The condition not only leaves the woman incontinent, leaking urine and/or faeces uncontrollably, but also often puts her at risk of being excluded from their families and communities.

CCBRT, and its six partner facilities, provide more than 70% of the fistula treatments conducted annually in Tanzania. CCBRT builds the capacity in partner facilities, covers the cost of treatment, and maintains a widespread Ambassador network to identify women living with fistula and provide them completely free, life changing treatment. CCBRT also runs the Mabinti Centre that offers yearlong training of women recovering from fistula surgery in screen-printing, sewing, beading, and crochet. Upon graduation from the Centre and with the continued support in terms of home visits and coaching sessions, the women are able to start their own businesses.

In the section below, you will meet Mwajuma, a 22-year-old girl who with the support from CCBRT went from being a woman suffering from fistula to becoming a young and independent entrepreneur.

 Woman smiling

Mwajuma’s story - one of strength, hope, and a bright future

Mwajuma dreams of running her own business and employing other women like her. Her training at CCBRT's Mabinti Centre, an arts and entrepreneurship-training programme for recovered fistula patients, began in 2014.

Mwajuma was 22 years old and living in Arusha when she became pregnant with her first child. During labour she experienced "horrible abdominal pains" and was rushed into the operating theatre for a caesarean section. Sadly, her baby did not survive.

Following this trauma, Mwajuma stayed in the hospital for two weeks because her stomach pains persisted. She suffered a number of complications from the birth and could not move. Mwajuma also found that she could not control her bladder. The doctors referred her to CCBRT in Dar es Salaam.

Thinking back to that period she reflected, "I didn't know if I would be okay. I was terrified". When she met with CCBRT doctors, they assured her that they could repair the obstetric fistula that was causing her to leak uncontrollably - while referring her for physical therapy in CCBRT's Rehabilitation Department to address her mobility problems.

Woman teaching 

After her operation and weeks of rehab, Mwajuma moved in with her aunt in Dar in order to stay close to CCBRT. One afternoon while she was at work at Kariakoo market, Mama Millinga, CCBRT's Holistic Care Coordinator, called to invite her to the Mabinti Centre, "a place where you can learn business and art skills".

"I wanted to be independent," said Mwajuma, "so I went to see what it would be like". She loved what she saw: “the sewing machines, screen-printing blocks, all the fabric and designs…It was amazing”. At the end of her first session she thought, "After working hard here, I can become someone else".

Mwajuma graduated from the Mabinti programme in 2015 and has since launched a handbag business. She sells her wares in her neighbourhood and local markets. "When I sell," she reflected, "I'm happy and thanking God for my teachers". This young entrepreneur has a bright future.

Read more about CCBRT here or follow them on Facebook

Anne Hainer and Radha Pennotti, team leader for maternity health and disability health at CCBRT, respectively, have been contributing greatly to this article.