"Mana" Linda Honored with REAL Award for Championing Family Planning in Mozambique
Known as “Mana” Linda by some, and “Mama” Linda by others, Linda Paquili Amana is inspirational in her commitment to addressing the family planning needs of those in her community. On May 7, that commitment was recognized when Linda was presented with the REAL award before family, friends, colleagues, community leaders, health and government officials, and the Pathfinder team on the grounds of the Memba Health Facility in Nampula, Mozambique.
The REAL awards are meant to highlight and honor exceptional health workers around the world and are an initiative of Save the Children and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, of which Pathfinder is a member. Linda, an active community health volunteer with Pathfinder's Strengthening Communities through Integrated Programming project, was one of 12 honorees from developing countries. She was also the only maternal health counselor recognized among a group of nurses, midwives, doctors, community health workers, and nutritionists and the only honoree from Mozambique.
With more than 12 years of experience as a community health worker and traditional birth attendant in Nantaca, Memba District in Northern Mozambique, Linda is a true leader in her community. She hosts monthly meetings with her community mobilization team after which team members disperse to share the information with other men, women and children at water pumps, mosques, markets, and football fields. Linda attends weekly meetings at the health center and sensitizes pregnant women as to the importance of going to the health center to monitor their weight gain or, if they are more than 8 months pregnant, to use the maternal waiting house prior to delivery.
Linda maintains a registry of the pregnant women in her area, and writes referrals for them to present at the health center. When pregnant women begin to have delivery contractions, they knock on Linda’s door and she accompanies them to the health center, either on foot or by renting a motorcycle taxi.
Mana Linda has brought new energy and dynamism to her community.A married mother of five, Linda leads by example for positive health behaviors. She uses the intrauterine device (IUD) as well as condoms with her partner. Her family dug their own latrine and they practice good hygiene at home—using a drying rack for clean dishes, washing hands with soap before meals, etc. Linda is highly influential in her community, valued by both men and women for her knowledge and dedication to improving the health of her community, especially with respect to women and children. Linda became interested in maternal and child health after realizing the irregularity of deliveries in the community.
Apart from being the traditional birth attendant, Linda is also the godmother of a Youth Farmer Club, a member of the Community Leader Council (CLC), and a community health worker since 2006. Due to her remarkable interpersonal skills and ability to mobilize the community, Linda was chosen to share her experience with community health workers of other communities in the district to try and improve performance. With support from the CLC, Mana Linda has brought new energy and dynamism to her community.
Uptake of family planning services was very poor prior to Linda's advocacy efforts in the community. Nina Caetano, a local maternal and child health nurse, can recall Linda accompanying more than 35 women from the Nantaca community to the health center to initiate family planning. Linda provides condoms for her own son and further sensitizes the other members of her family, advising abstinence in the case of her daughter. Nina values the collaboration with Mana Linda and describes Linda as a hard worker who personally accompanies pregnant women to the health center for pre- and post-natal care and eligible women for IUD insertion, bringing at least 4-5 women per week for initial consults after sensitizing them to the importance of care during pregnancy, delivery, and family planning.
Maria Sebastião is one of the women who has benefitted from Linda’s efforts. She has been using the IUD for one year, as well as condoms. Maria explains, “I follow these methods to take a break from having children. When I am ready to have another child, I will have the IUD removed.”
Pathfinder International and the Strengthening Communities through Integrated Programming project are proud to have Linda (and others like her) on our team, working to improve maternal and child health outcomes. The REAL awards provided a wonderful opportunity to recognize Linda and the fantastic work she does in her community in Memba.