Maternity Waiting Village, Kasungu, Malawi, 2015
In Malawi, maternal and neonatal mortality are major public health challenges. Because few deliveries are attended by a skilled professional, in 2010, one in thirty-six Malawian women had a lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or delivery. Maternal waiting homes address this issue by providing a facility within reach of a health center where expectant mothers, after their 36th week, can stay until their delivery period in order to receive care. Past attempts at using this model have been less successful as the homes have lacked places to sleep, adequate ventilation, and sanitation.
As part of the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health & Safe Motherhood, Malawi intends to build 130 maternity waiting homes to improve maternal and infant health. In close collaboration with the Ministry of Health architect and as a project with UNC-Malawi and the Gates Foundation, MASS Design Group developed a new prototype home which creates a safe, comfortable and dignified environment for expectant mothers.
MASS Design Group’s new prototype “village” reflects the vernacular by creating clusters of four-bed units around small courtyards, offering women a protected, comfortable, and dignified space in which to carry out daily activities. Designed around replicable modules and built of locallymade CSEB (compressed stabilized earth blocks), the facility can be replicated and adapted to other sites as part of the country’s drive to improve maternal health.
The Maternity Waiting Village is arranged around courtyards and covered outdoor spaces which play host to daily activities, including educational programming around postnatal care or around handicrafts to be sold. At night, outdoor spaces accommodate the family members and attendants who travel with each expectant mother.