#IWD2019 - Saving Mothers with Maternal Emergencies

#IWD2019 - Saving Mothers with Maternal Emergencies

Happy International Women's Day!

Today we recognize, celebrate, and honor the thousands of Ugandan women and girls we work with every single day. As mothers, daughters, educators, students, providers, fighters, and survivors, we are grateful for their determination and resiliency in working towards designing a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

For this International Women's Day, we'd like to highlight our newest initiative, the Maternal Emergency Transport System (METS). With our overall mission to significantly reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in our communities, we recently kicked off the METS program to provide timely transport for women with obstetric emergencies to local health facilities.

Maternal Health Education at the Grassroots: Role of the Village Health Team Workers

The maternal health program at S.O.U.L. Foundation aims to reach every individual in the community with up to date maternal and child health information in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the region. This is currently being achieved through various information channels, including the Village Health Team (VHT) workers, who are the first health care responders at the grassroots level of communities. Because S.O.U.L. Foundation recognizes the significant role and influence the VHTs have within the villages, the maternal health team recently worked with district and sub-county health officials to train a cohort of 34 VHTs from Budondo sub-county on maternal and child health.

As an Information Communication and Operations Specialist, I work closely with this passionate cohort of maternal health ambassadors, who are now able to identify pregnancy danger signs, refer mothers to the nearest health centers, extend maternal health education to the broader community, and collect data about health indicators. My role includes managing and training the VHTs on data collection, analysis, and reporting skills. Furthermore, I engage the VHTs in feedback sessions where they share their experiences, challenges, and solutions so that the program is fine-tuned to meet community needs.

Dignified Maternal Care in Rural Settings

As the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at S.O.U.L. Foundation, I get the distinct pleasure of assessing the impact of the various initiatives in the Maternal Health Program. While during a typical workday I spend endless hours coding data and writing reports, I also get to take the M&E nerd out from behind the computer and spend time with 150 pregnant mamas who come to S.O.U.L. each day. These women, of the 450 women we plan to serve in the first year of our project, are representative of S.O.U.L.'s commitment to community-driven development, a model that focuses on creating programs that are directly rooted in the needs of local communities. In 2014, S.O.U.L. listened to its community members articulate the maternal and child health needs of their villages, through the dissemination of a comprehensive needs assessment. The result – the Antenatal Education Class, a collaboratively developed education program that teaches a patient-advocacy and empowerment-centered childbirth education curriculum.

S.O.U.L.’s Maternal Health Network for Rural and Vulnerable Women

I first learned about S.O.U.L. Foundation earlier this year when I was searching for maternal health jobs in Uganda. When I came across the posting for a Maternal Health Program Manager, I just knew I had to work for this organization. What struck me the most about S.O.U.L. was the thoughtfulness that had gone into the development of the maternal health program, specifically the focus on the Three Delays Model.

As a maternal health professional, specifically focused on the reduction of maternal mortality, the Three Delays Model is the foundation of how I would ideally approach every project. This model highlights the three different points in obtaining health care where delays contribute to maternal mortality: the delay in seeking care, the delay in accessing care, and the delay in receiving appropriate treatment.