Travel Log: Nurse, Mother, Change-Maker

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November 6, 2014

Luisa Notta has been a nurse for 10 years now. She is based in the children’s wing of Manhiça Hospital. The pediatric section has 32 beds. In the height of malaria season she can have up to 60 children and their mothers in the unit, and in low season she has around 18-20 children.

Mozambique_LuisaShe is also a mother to a one-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl. She volunteered that the large gap between them was because her salary as a nurse was so low – she could barely manage to buy food.

She is employed now by the Manhiça Health Research Center and loves her work. “I like to help mothers who are suffering. It’s not easy to see your child be ill.” The children she cares for are facing malaria, pneumonia, under-nutrition, bronchitis and HIV. “The mothers trust me, they feel confident in me. That means a lot.”

Luisa works hard with mothers to help them be calm and strong for their kids. “I tell her that her child will get better. As I give a child their needed care, I ask the mother to collaborate with me. In this way it helps me and it helps the mother be part of her child’s care.”

Mozambique_Hospital

She sees Mozambique’s nurses as being very dedicated but underpaid. Most nurses need to supplement their income, as they cannot afford groceries. It makes it difficult to expand health care, but in a country of desperate unemployment it is a respected profession.  “Nursing is essential for Mozambique and my hope is that mothers will always trust the nurses and have confidence in our care.”

I met Luisa after spending a day with Mozambique’s crack team of medical staff and scientists at the Manhiça research institute. They carry out meticulous data gathering, as well as vaccine and medication testing to combat the worst diseases the country faces. Luisa’s work in the pediatric unit helps researchers with essential data to improve Mozambique’s overall approach to fighting the biggest causes of death, especially for children.

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We are in Mozambique with the International Reporting Project (IRP). You can follow the #IRPfellows hashtag on Instagram and Twitter to see latest stories and observations from the whole team of reporters.

Image credits: Chrysula Winegar

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