International Women's Day 2018

By Joy Kemp on 08 March 2018 Global midwifery Uganda

In conversation with Diane Lockhart

On this International Women’s Day we celebrate the work that many of our RCM members are engaged in. On a recent trip to Uganda, our global team caught up with Diane Lockhart, a midwife and RCM member from Northern Ireland, working in a Kampala Slum.

Having first visited Uganda in 1989 on a working holiday at the tender age of 18, Diane had her first exposure to midwifery at a local Ugandan hospital, witnessing the reality of women’s lives in a low-resource setting. Later, having trained as a paediatric nurse and a midwife, she returned to Uganda in 2008 and 2009. Working with various NGOs as a health professional volunteer, Diane developed a connection with a Ugandan teacher in a slum which led to the setting up of a school for slum children.

Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 but thankfully made a full recovery and returned to Uganda in 2016 with her daughter Sara where, working with community leaders in the slum, the need was identified for a maternity centre where women could access safe, affordable and respectful maternity care. Partnering with a Ugandan doctor, Diane rented a room to provide antenatal care and safe delivery with referral pathways and access to transport where required. Over 60 babies have now been born at the maternity centre and over 40 women attend each week for antenatal and postnatal care.

Looking forward, Diane and her team hope to secure funding for a larger, safer and more accessible comprehensive maternal and child health centre, staffed with competent and compassionate Ugandan midwives and fully linked into local systems. The intention would also be for the centre to provide practice placements for student midwives in a slum setting, helping students to understand the context of the communities where women live in unreached areas of Uganda. Diane also hopes to continue building links with the wider community and engage community health workers in raising awareness of health needs, to promote birth in safe facilities and to recognise when referral is needed.

Diane, we salute you. You are making a difference in this world!