Uganda - Letting the week unfold

By Gill Walton on 10 December 2018 Global midwifery

This is my last day in Uganda, my first visit to Africa. My head is filled with thoughts and reflections -in a jumbled noisy way just like the street markets and the Kampala traffic! 

The thin line between life and death for mothers and babies is overwhelming and the need to help even in a small way will be with me for a very long time.

I came to Uganda with Joy Kemp (RCM Global Advisor) and Eliz Bannon a midwife from Northern Ireland, who had previously supported the Momentum project. We were here to scope the potential for another project and find collaborators and themes for preparing a funding bid.

As the CEO of the RCM, I also feel it is important to support all members of the RCM and the work we do in the UK and internationally.

The new vision developed by the RCM board this year is very clear that we will continue to develop an expert midwifery voice locally, nationally and internationally and this was a good opportunity for me to get an understanding of how we contribute to this international vision and create a future potential for expert midwifery voices in Uganda.

The RCM is twinned with the Ugandan Private Midwives Association (UPMA). An organisation that is striving to develop midwifery practice and safe care. From the minute I met the president Mary and a member of the board Sarah at the airport, I was overwhelmed by their warmth and kindness, a Ugandan trait I witnessed throughout the week. They had planned a busy agenda for us and they filled each and every day with visits to clinics and hospitals, meetings with the Ministry of Health, Professor Grace Edwards and her wonderful students at Aga Khan University, UK midwives working in Uganda and many Ugandan midwives and mothers.

Ugandan midwives are passionate and positive and striving in the most difficult circumstances to improve care for women and babies. We visited Kawempe Hospital, a government run maternity unit. They have 26,000 births each year! There are women, their families, children and babies lining the rooms and corridors. One midwife looks after at least 10 women in labour. It is shocking to see the lack of privacy, lack of equipment and the incredible workload……..and they smile and try their best every day.  Midwives want to learn and understand what they can do to improve their practice, how they can influence their managers and the ministry of health and how they can work with us to plan a better future.

It is clear that Twinning and Momentum are making a difference and the midwives and students that have benefited from mentorship are confident, resourceful and now ready for more.

Developing strong leadership skills at all levels of the profession has come to the fore. Advocating for women for safe care, more equipment and more staff who are well trained is a Ugandan midwives dream. We need to a build a Ugandan and UK corsortia who share this dream and help us develop a compelling bid for future funding. I know that midwives in the UK are happy to volunteer in Uganda and also bring back their learning to help us improve care in the UK…………a plan is on its way………. watch this space and I know that as we move forward with our sisters in Uganda they will say …”you are most welcome”.