State of Midwifery in Uganda
At least 2,000 additional midwives are necessary to reduce maternal/infant mortality rates; midwives who could provide skilled antenatal, delivery, and post delivery care as well as family planning and immunization services. Uganda has a ratio of 1 midwife per 5,000 people. These shortages are primarily due to insufficient training and recruitment, poorly supplied hospitals and health centers, and a lack of financial incentives. Additionally high workloads create burnout and low morale.
In Uganda since 2006 the maternal mortality rate has stagnated at 435 deaths per 100,000 live births. Uganda has a Millennium Development Goal target mortality rate of 131 deaths per 100,000 by 2015. With a shortage of midwives this target is becoming a distant dream.
According to the State of Uganda Population Report in 2013 all Ugandan women encounter some level of maternal risk. 40% of them will face some sort of pregnancy complication. Each year over 6,000 women die from these complications, and many of these complications are preventable. A huge issue is delay. Most patients are expected to buy their own medical supplies as well as traveling long distances to a health center or hospital. For most especially in remote areas these expenses are exorbitant and as a result many women turn to untrained birth attendants. This issue of delay becomes especially impactful when a mother in labor arrives at a health center and there is not enough staff to take care of her.
Government run hospitals according to the Human Resource for Health Data Update report were only staffed at 57%. However the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau ranked their hospitals as the best with 100% of their staffing requirements fulfilled regardless of the hospital location. Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital established by the Catholic Comboni Order is considered one of the best health facilities in Uganda drawing health professionals from all over the world. St. Mary’s Midwifery Training School associated with the hospital is rising to the challenge of supplying much needed midwives especially to the more remote and less traveled areas of Uganda. In light of the overwhelming need, however, St. Mary’s has not compromised its standards and is continually ranked as one of Uganda’s if not the best midwifery training school.
One in three women around the world gives birth without the help of a midwife or a skilled attendant. Two million others give birth entirely alone.
“Shortage of Midwives Failing Efforts to End Maternal Deaths” The Daily Monitor, 5/6/2011
Barely 30% of all medical services in Uganda are in rural areas even though the country is primarily an agrarian society. A majority of women continue to give birth at home because of long distances necessary to travel to a health center combined with oftentimes the necessity of buying one’s own medical supplies. A donation to St. Mary’s Midwifery Training School means that there will be less women giving birth alone. A donation to St. Mary’s means a healthier Uganda, a healthier world.
Saving mothers. Saving children. Saving lives.