Harnessing volunteerism in support of maternal and newborn health goals. MAMaZ

Authors: Health Partners International
Document Type: Policy and technical briefs
Publication Date: 2013

The UK aid funded Mobilising Access to Maternal Health Services in Zambia (MAMaZ) programme tested different ways to generate sustainable demand for maternal and newborn health services in six rural districts. The programme was implemented in support of the Ministry of Community Development and Mother and Child Health’s Safe Motherhood Action Group (SMAG) initiative. When the programme started in 2010, many lay community health worker initiatives in Zambia were offering their workers some sort of financial incentive. In contrast, MAMaZ decided to experiment with a volunteer model, and to monitor some issues very closely, including: volunteer motivation; the amount of time spent on volunteering; drop-out rates; and the prospects for sustaining the volunteer effort. These had all been cited as weaknesses of other volunteer efforts in and outside Zambia. MAMaZ proved that volunteer approaches can be a highly effective way to stimulate maternal and newborn health-related behaviour change. Careful management of volunteer expectations from the outset, and use of a training approach and methods which were effective and enjoyable to use, provided the bedrock for a successful volunteer programme.

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Tags: Zambia, Community-led systems, MAMaZ, Scaling up, Newborn health, Maternal health, Community engagement, Community mobilisation, Health systems, Health systems strengthening,