Birth & Midwifery in Uganda
Resources for parents and practitioners
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Some of the following sites may not be in English; an online translator may be useful.
Birth Situation Room Report
Midwifery Today Country Contact*
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Edwidge Kezaabu and Violet Kengyeya
Edwidge Kezaabu, completed her Masters in Public Health in 2012, with a Post Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, BA Community Development, Diplomas in Midwifery and Nursing, as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Research Methodology. She is involved also in counselling in reproductive health-related issues, community outreach and home-based care programmes that address maternal and child health. Edwidge has been involved with birth as a midwife, as a trainer of trainers, as a clinical instructor, and as a mother. Her goals for international midwifery are to gain knowledge and share experience and contribute to safe birth and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. She would like to network with other members to share experiences and research findings. Edwidge tells us, “I love my career and would like to save as many women as possible from complications of pregnancy, labour and puerperium.”
Violet Kengyeya is a private midwife since the 1970s who is offering free antenatal checkups to needy mothers in Kampala. She also offers deliveries and care of the child after birth and other services. Violet tells us, “Childbirth and midwifery here is doing a little well but with a lot of challanges; that is why we would love to work with you to see that we get some kind of partnership and more training here.” She seeks to help educate her community.
- Africa Midwives Research Network (AMRN)
P.O. Box 7051, Kampala, Uganda
Tel: 256 - 41-323301
Building a Birth House in Uganda
The Shanti Uganda Society improves the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of communities impacted by poverty, HIV/AIDS and war in Uganda. Our programs include organic farming initiatives, income generating initiatives for HIV positive women, teen girls groups, a birthkit project and the creation of safe and empowering birth spaces.
In December 2009, we begin building the Shanti Uganda Birth House and Learning Centre. In partnership with a natural building organization, the birth house is being built with and for the local community using local materials and is designed to honour the needs of women in the community. It will be a safe and empowering place for women to birth supported by midwives that is similar to a home environment. Design includes an outdoor garden compound and plans for an herb garden. We hope to be complete by spring 2010.
There are many, many incredible practices here in Uganda. The women in the surrounding villages gathered to help us with our garden at the birth house and we got into a conversation about local herbs used during birth. They told us that sometimes the dung of hippos is used! They will be helping us to plant these local herbs in our outdoor courtyard.
Had a great time with the women in the community this morning, who all showed up to work on our garden and volunteer their time. Teared up a bit when a 90-year-old woman came with her hoe to help out and walked up and said in her native Lugandan, “Good morning, I’m here to help.” She had no teeth, one of her fingers was half gone and she was the shortest wise woman I’ve ever seen, but she could dig if it meant building a birth house for the women of her village! The support we are getting from the community is incredible.
Want to get involved?—If you are a midwife, doula, prenatal educator, homeopathic practitioner, herbalist or have other skills that you feel may benefit the work we do in Uganda, please contact us. Currently our volunteer midwives work in the labour ward at the local clinic we support. There are roughly 50 births a month at the clinic and it is staffed by local midwives, doctors and has a room for c-sections. While the Shanti Uganda Birth House is being built, we will also be looking for volunteer midwives to help in the planning and training of local midwives in the area. Once built, volunteers can work both at the clinic, which will be our transfer location as well as at our eco-birth house.
Improve maternal and infant health—Make a contribution towards reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in Luwero District, Uganda. Provide much needed supplies at the Shanti Uganda Birth House, help educate midwives and support prenatal education. (www.shantiuganda.org/products/gifts-of-action)
Donate birth and midwifery supplies, prenatal education tools, receiving blankets, onesies, reusable menstrual pads—Mail to: Shanti Uganda Society, 1900 Bowman Ave., Coquitlam, BC V3J 6E3 Canada
— Natalie Angell
Shanti Uganda Society
Acknowledging Maternal Mortality in Uganda
In June 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution acknowledging maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights issue.
Maternal deaths in Uganda are one of the causes of the high number of orphans. There are more than two million orphans here in Uganda. Ugandan law still places restrictions on the ability of foreign citizens to adopt Ugandan children and most of the children involved are found living in very destitute conditions without any family or love. Those who are lucky thrive with the love and care of their new adoptive families. The Tooro Babies Home in Kabarole District, West Uganda, for example, offers orphanage with assistance from local and international donors, but the orphanage is overwhelmed by the number of children that are brought from nearby communities.
Observing birth as a human rights issue and reducing maternal mortality and morbidity should call for more involvement of policymakers and leaders at all levels. Birth and maternal health should be everyone’s concern and not the responsibility of hospital staff alone. Male involvement in patriarchal societies like Uganda should not only be encouraged but should be reinforced with laws. For more information about these issues, visit the following Web sites:
— Kezaabu Edwidge
Midwifery Today country contact for Uganda
Birth Control and Male Involvement in Uganda
It has come to everyone’s notice that birth control is one of the most sensitive and difficult issues in Uganda. The country has one of the highest population growth rates in Africa, with an average of over six children per woman. The total population of Uganda is estimated at 32 million, and at the current rate of growth could double in a matter of decades.
There is a deeply embedded attitude that having many children is a good thing. It seems pragmatic—children look after you when you are old, and since some children die, you need plenty to ensure a few outlive you. Producing many children is considered essential to one’s identity.
The White Ribbon Alliance in Uganda, with support from many members, is working tooth and nail to put the message about safe birth across. If we could pull more men aboard the campaign, it would make a difference.
In Uganda, maternal mortality has fallen from 506 to 425 per 100,000 live births. Although there is an outcry for births to be attended by qualified health workers, some women still prefer traditional midwives who are within easy reach. The challenge is that traditional midwives prefer to use local herbs that are not measurable and are dangerous to the fetus. Though it is believed that local herbs ease pain during labour and make birth faster, complications to both the mother and the baby may not be noticed until it is too late.
We have a lot to achieve and the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals may be left unaccomplished unless we involve male spouses to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and promote safe birth.
— Kezaabu Edwidge