Improving Maternal Health in Jinja, Uganda

MaternalHealth-Uganda.jpgAnnie Amspoker

Host Organization: OGLM (The Organization for the Good Life of the Marginalized)

FSD Grant from PDCB Fund: $240.38

Host Community Donation: $152.20

Each year over 500,000 women worldwide die from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth. In Africa, a woman’s risk of dying due to maternal complications is 175 times greater than women in developed countries. Women in Buwaiswa, a village in the Busoga region of Uganda, face this desperate reality throughout their reproductive lives. Due to their rural location, families are not being reached by health care resources or the current safe motherhood initiatives being launched throughout Uganda. Pregnant women do not receive prenatal care due to not only long travel distances, but also a lack of knowledge of prenatal health solutions. The seriousness of this problem is reflected in the fact that 4 of 10 babies die in Buwaiswa during birth.

FSD intern Annie Amspoker conducted a needs assessment with local mothers, grandmothers, and leaders within the village. All indicated that accessibility to health care facilities posed a major challenge. In order to address this need, Annie and her host organization created a health education program on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in collaboration with midwives in from Kamuli hospital. The project implemented safe motherhood education sessions, husband/gender sensitivity training sessions, and birth attendant training sessions for key members in the village.

Through the project, an estimated 147 members of Buwaiswa's community were directly affected. In a village with a population of only 1, 450 people, this number is hugely significant. Through Annie and OGLM's efforts, the women of Buwaiswa gained a larger understanding of how to care for themselves and their babies, a step toward decreasing the rate of pregnancy- and birth-related deaths within the community. The increased knowledge and sensitivity of husbands who participated in the trainings are breaking down barriers that have long prevented women from receiving needed health resources during and after pregnancy.

Knowledge is key in breaking the fatal cycle of maternal and infant mortality, and OGLM recognized that fact with its inclusion of this project in its 2008 budget, securing funding for its continuation this year. Future educational sessions will be organized and led with OGLM, midwives, and trained educators within the community, ensuring that the information continues to be disseminated and safe practices applied throughout the village.

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