Fatuma's Story

A mother holds her daughter.

When Fatuma leaves her job as a nurse every night to tuck her daughters into bed, she hopes she is not bringing home an illness that will harm them.

With help from a CFC-supported organization, Fatuma is now not only certain that she is safe at her job, but that her family, patients and neighbors are protected from infectious disease, as well. “If we are safe, the community is safe,” she says. “That’s how the cycle goes.”

Fatuma works in the labor ward at a hospital in Musoma, Tanzania, where she’s part of a team of 20 nurses that delivers 10 to 13 babies a day. Before the organization’s program began, staff would ask patients to bring gloves and other safety gear when they arrived at the hospital because supplies were often scarce. Without protection and safety procedures, diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C can easily spread in a labor ward – from patient to health worker, or health worker to patient.

The program vaccinates staff against hepatitis B and supplies hospitals with gloves, waste bins and other equipment, as well as training to help create a culture of safety. When the pilot safety program at a medical center in Mwanza proved successful, it expanded to three more hospitals. For four years now, the organization has been improving health worker safety in Tanzania, and Fatuma is one of 1,750 health workers and students taking part. They are also doing similar training in Sierra Leone, where unsafe conditions contributed to the spread of Ebola last year.

“Safe hospitals and clinics improve health in communities,” says Elikem, who works at the organization. “Our program strengthens health systems and will help protect communities from disease outbreaks now and for years to come.”

“Safety is always needed. Safety is what we are longing for,” says Fatuma. “If I am not safe, how long will I live? Who will take care of my kids?”