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.
For expecting mothers all around the world, every minute matters during an emergency. In our rural areas where women often live very far from a hospital, this is even more true. Every year in Uganda there are almost 70,000 maternal and neonatal deaths, and sadly many are preventable with the right care and access to a health facility. At S.O.U.L., we are proud to provide women and their families with a lifeline for a safe childbirth.
Please read below for an interview we did with our METS Program Manager, Denis. Denis shares why he is passionate about S.O.U.L.'s maternal health programs and why he is celebrating International Women's Day!
If you are inspired by a woman in your life, please consider celebrating that special person by supporting S.O.U.L.'s programs! Click here to donate.
1. What inspired you to work in emergency healthcare, especially maternal health?
Our country lacks a well-coordinated emergency medical service (EMS) system and as much as the government has done their best, an efficient system is yet to be realized. As I grew up in my village, I noticed that most pregnant women giving birth at home with unskilled birth attendants were taken advantage of because of their ignorance and poverty. I was deeply affected when I realized the number of people in our rural areas of Uganda, mainly women, who die due to lack of timely and appropriate pre-hospital care.
2. Who is one woman in your life that inspired you during your career?
My first boss was a woman who for some reason saw potential in me and encouraged me to focus on my EMS profession. She was looked up to by many people as a role model and had immense expertise and passion for saving lives. She prepared me to be an all round person who could assist in emergency response, managing volunteers, managing emergency call centers, safe motherhood, training, and other key aspects at a considerably young age. She is the one person I knew would get the best out of her staff at all costs.
3. Why is S.O.U.L.'s Maternal Emergency Transport Service (METS) program so important to our communities?
The METS program ensures that expectant mothers with life threatening complications in the rural communities we are serving have access to improved referral transport services on a 24-hour basis, thus increasing the proportion of women delivering safely by a skilled health worker.
4. Why do you think access to emergency transport for expecting mothers is vital to women's empowerment and equality?
Every woman deserves to give birth with dignity. It's unthinkable for pregnant women to walk a distance of over 12 miles to a health facility for delivery or medical attention. They have been left with no option but to utilize the services of unskilled traditional birth attendants in the communities. Our society has greatly harmed women by not demanding for the improvement of maternal health and therefore mothers are subjected to humiliation and pain while accessing health care. With access to a standard maternal emergency transport program, mothers are finally able to receive the best quality health care and deliver with dignity.
5. On International Women's Day, who is one woman in your life that you would like to honor?
My mom stands out among the many women who have positively influenced my life. Besides, the parental love and care that every mother would show a kid, she took every risk to raise and educate seven children! When she had no money for school fees for us, she would swallow her pride and plead with the school to allow her kids to stay in school as she looks for the money. I can’t take the credit away from her for the success in our family. I have experienced without any doubt what an impact a mother brings to her children. Mothers are the difference between happiness and sorrow on this planet! I wish all mothers a happy International Women's Day!