Women Making a Difference
Keziah Kapesa works with other private nurses-midwives and the Tanzanian government to integrate HIV testing and reproductive health services.
“The issue of integrating family planning and HIV services was long awaited by community members.” - – Keziah Kapesa
Keziah Kapesa is a registered nurse-midwife and a “champion” who advocates the integration of HIV testing and family planning (FP) services. As a member of the Private Nurses and Midwives of Tanzania (PRINMAT), and Family Health International’s Network of Champions, Keziah is leading private midwives in the promotion of integrated health services in Tanzania. Working closely with local communities, she has brought awareness to decisionmakers about the public’s need and desire for the integration of HIV and FP services.
The Network of Champions project is based on the idea that local opinion leaders can facilitate the adoption of new ideas by assuming the role of advocates, or champions. The Network focuses on champions to promote the integration of health services to policymakers, health practitioners, and other decisionmakers.
Keziah believes that integrated services are extremely important to the community and volunteered to be the champion for PRINMAT in Tanzania. A midwife for 22 years, Keziah feels that offering HIV services – especially voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) – alongside FP and reproductive health (RH) services provides greater privacy and increased access for clients.
Many VCT centers in Tanzania are stand-alone clinics, called “Angaza,” which offer clients little privacy for HIV testing and little information on other FP and RH issues. PRINMAT clients and community members have expressed their desire for integrated services, saying, “We like walking into PRINMAT clinics because the nurses are friendly and caring. You know when you are used to one nurse you can confide in her instead of being referred to another clinic for other services.”
Through the Network of Champions project, Keziah has been developing an advocacy plan – with colleagues, clients, community members, and Ministry of Health officials – to encourage the integration of VCT and FP/RH services. This year, she plans to start training her PRINMAT colleagues to provide VCT. The goal is to have at least 20 PRINMAT clinics that will better serve their communities by offering an integrated package of RH services.
Story provided by Family Health International and the Contraceptive and Reproductive Technology Research and Utilization Program