Village Health Worker leading by example

19 February 2019
Laina Mutenga, her husband and two of their four children at Forefront Farm
Laina Mutenga, her husband and two of their four children at Forefront Farm

Laina Mutenga, 42, is a village health worker who lives and works at Forefront Farm in Mashonaland East.  She has been married for 17 years with four children.  She says from the time she got married, she has always been aware of the importance of family planning - deciding the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception.

“When I got married, I immediately started using birth control pills except for the times when my husband and myself agreed that we wanted to conceive,” Laina says. “I switched to another contraceptive method, Jadelle in 2014 because I had planned to stop giving birth after having a third child that same year.”

Laina and her husband had decided to stop having children after they had lost two of their children in their infancy – 2 months and 4 months respectively. When they had a baby in 2014, they agreed and were convinced that newborn would be their last child.  The couple discussed available options of contraception and settled for Jadelle.

In 2016, Laina fell pregnant while using Jadelle. She was disappointed – she however continued using it for two more years, although living in fear of falling pregnant again.

“My husband was not impressed, he thought I had fallen pregnant intentionally. He didn’t want to get a vasectomy himself so he encouraged me to ask the clinic in Marondera if there was another contraception method that we could use,” she says.

“I attended a workshop for village health workers organized by an NGO, ZICHIRE (----) on Family Planning and that is where I heard about the IUCD as a long acting reversible contraceptive method.  Our task is to educate communities on these long acting methods so we have to understand how they work and their benefits. I decided to lead by example.”

Laina discussed with her husband the benefits of the IUCD – non hormonal and they agreed that she could have it inserted on her next visit to Kushinga Phikelela Clinic. She says she is now educating women at the farm and surrounding communities on the IUCD, as a long acting method that is reversible, and dispelling myths that IUCD insertion is the same as tying one’s tubes.

Continuing the efforts of 2017, UNFPA provided support to Ministry of Health for conducting integrated IUCD and Implants training, which trained about 400 health care workers in 2018. From 6444 IUCD insertions in 2017, it has reached to 13,188 insertions in 2018. 

The Family Planning programme is sustained through the Health Development Fund which is supported by the governments of Britain, Ireland and Sweden and the European Union.