Team member profile: Enias Marama

19 Mar

MaramaMy name is Enias Marama and I am 60 years old. I am a Public Health Officer trained at Loughborough University of Technology in the UK. I have been working in Zimbabwe with the Italian Non Goverment Organisation CESVI since 2001.

During my time at CESVI, we helped to pioneer the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in a rural setting in Zimbabwe. Initially, HIV testing facilities were only centralised at a few national hospitals in major cities. Antiretroviral treatment (ARV) for those HIV positive was not available. Those testing HIV positive were often sent back to their rural homes to die.

Telling someone they were HIV positive was like a “death sentence”. HIV prevalence rate at the time stood at around 23% amongst the general populace and around 16% amongst pregnant women.

With the blessing of the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe and in partnership with a small mission hospital (St. Albert’s Mission Hospital) in the remote north eastern corner of the country, CESVI humbly took on the challenge to prove that PMTCT was possible even in resource limited settings.

The PMTCT project was such a success that it has now been adopted by the Ministry as a national program. The national HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe now stands at 13.7%, and the incidence of new HIV infections has halved.

However maternal and neo-natal mortality rates remain high, as most pregnant women from the peripheral villages cannot access the health facilities due to the lack of transport. St Albert’s Hospital, with support from CESVI, has renovated and enlarged the pregnant mothers waiting shelter so that mothers whose delivery dates are near, can come and wait. Even then, only those from nearby villages are currently able to come, either on foot or riding on ox-drawn carts.

The challenge is to find some form of transport to ferry the pregnant mothers from villages to the local health facilities for ante-natal care, and to the hospital for those requiring specialist medical/obstetrical care.

The African Solar Taxi could be the solution to this problem. Currently the hospital relies on a single diesel Toyota Land Cruiser, based at one of the clinics, to ferry only emergency cases to the hospital. This vehicle is very expensive to maintain and run.

The African Solar Taxi could also be used by local clinic staff to do mobile outreach visits to villages for immunisations, to follow-up on ART and TB treatment defaulters, and for other health advocacy and promotion activities. In fact the potential spin off benefits from this Solar Taxi project are immense – particularly if the array of solar powered batteries could be used to power lighting units for health clinics, charge cell phones, run water pumps, and to operate VHF radios for contact with the hospital for emergencies.

Together – we can make it!

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