In Uganda, a Midwife and a Mother Come Together
Reducing infant mortality in the African country takes a partnership
Gertrude Namara knew it would take an hour to reach the Nyamuyanja Health Center from her mud-walled home in Western Uganda. Her four children had been born there, and this baby would be no different. Giving birth in a health facility with a skilled nurse or midwife is a major factor in surviving complications of childbirth in Uganda, where the maternal mortality ratio is 438 deaths per 100,000 live births. On a warm, mid-July day, as her labor steadily progressed, the 29-year-old set out on foot.
Namara was greeted by the familiar face of midwife Pulkeria Kyorasiime, one of a dozen health care providers who staff the center in Isingiro District, where Namara had attended prenatal classes. “Pulkeria and another health worker would examine me during my visits to the health facility and they gave me my expected delivery date so I was prepared for the birth and had everything in place,” says Namara.
Namara had a healthy girl and returned home. A week later, Kyorasiime was at her door. One-third of Ugandan mothers receive such visits within two days of a birth. Kyorasiime discussed nutrition and hygiene and made sure the baby was breastfeeding properly, especially important in a country with an under-5 mortality rate of 56 deaths per 1,000 live births. Kyorasiime also talked about postpartum family planning and the benefits to mother and baby.