Nobody really knows the exact time when a mother is going to naturally give birth or when someone will get sick. These events are unpredictable. They could occur at any time during day or night.
And when electricity is not available, these situations can be even more daunting, as is the case in many localities across Indonesia. The village of Oesusu is an example of the challenges faced, but also of the potential solutions. Solutions made possible thanks to greater social accountability and collaboration between communities and local officials.
Back in 2016, the sub-public health center (pustu) in Oesusu had no electricity. This meant that medical personnel could not help pregnant mothers who were about to give birth, particularly at night. Naturally, most villagers expressed their concern about this situation through the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) program, an initiative supported by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability.
As soon as the CVA program started operating in the village, the community presented a proposal to provide a health facility with electricity. One of the villagers who proposed the idea was Matilda Feto, the village midwife. Then, village officials came up with a plan to provide electricity, and in 2017 they installed a solar panel for the health facility.
“It was difficult if we wanted to find medicines, check patients, or there was labor that had to be handled around pustu,” Matilda explained. “Health workers used their cell mobile to get light if they had to serve patients in the evening or at night.”
Today, the health center or pustu has electricity. For Matilda, this is the most important change. This has brought more people to the sub-public health center, asking for maternal and child health services. The village midwife can now help in delivering babies, even in the middle of the night.
Oesusu Village Secretary, Dany Tauho, explained that in addition to having electricity at pustu, another positive change, thanks to the involvement of citizens through the CVA program, was the renovation of two buildings that host an integrated health post (posyandu) in 2017. Dany also confirmed that "one new building of posyandu is being built and there is a plan to build a new one in the near future.”
Besides the infrastructure changes at these health facilities, according to Dany, the most important change occurred with the mothers of newborns or infants, who improved their awareness of maternal and child’s health. This was also achieved thanks to village officials who always encouraged community members to be actively involved in the health post’s activities.
Yusi Lanang, a village mother, said that the changes she appreciated were new health equipment and a properly furnished building for the posyandu. "Before the introduction of the CVA program in the village I didn’t feel comfortable attending the posyandu activity because there was lack of everything," Yusi said.
Although the CVA program is now over, Herita Baun, the Oesusu Village Facilitator, underlines that important achievements in the village must be maintained. "I will continue to speak out for maternal and child health services in this village so that it would be better and better,” she promised.
Other lasting changes in Oesusu Village are subtler but also crucial. People now have the courage to speak up, and they do not just complain amongst themselves. The Citizen Voice and Action program supported by the GPSA provided community members with the information they needed to realize that they have a voice, and that their concerns or proposals regarding maternal and child health services can and should be taken into consideration.
Whatever the changes brought by this project, these have benefited all people in Oesusu village.
Written by: Brigita Rumun; Edited by Mauricio Rios, GGP, and Sandra Valdivia, GPSA