Coping With Provision of MNH Care During COVID-19 Lockdown in Rural Uganda

Dr. Kizito Felix, Co-ordinator of the COMONETH Project, Makerere University Centre of Excellence for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) conducts a ward round at Kiyunga Health Centre IV, Luuka District.

By Dr. Felix Kizito | All mothers and babies’ lives matter even in the toughest of the situations, as medical workers we ought to save lives and support bring life to earth. I have had the privilege to work on projects saving mothers and their newborn babies over time. Serving on the Community in which Mothers and Newborns Thrive (COMONETH) project with support from the UK charity Comic Relief has presented me with opportunity to witness first stand implementation of a community owned project with linkage to the facility promoting high coverage of preventive care improving the quality of client care given the project aim.

We meaningfully engage the community through the Village Health Teams (CHWs) while conducting refresher training through videos on maternal newborn health and support them apply these within communities they live in. There has been a substantial impact ever since the inception of the project in 2017.  Mothers in community receive timely health education through VHTs and because of this project they have managed to attend all the required ANC visits but also make postnatal review visits. Before COMONETH, Luuka district in Eastern Uganda had the poorest MNH reviews and now it is among the best districts in Uganda along those lines.

Like the rest of the world, COMONETH project activities have been abstracted by the directives in responses against the COVID 19 pandemic. As a frontline “essential” health service provider I offer emergency obstetric and newborn care at Kiyunga Health Centre IV where I have witnessed immediate disempowerment in the maternal newborn care due to the COVID 19 pandemic. So many mothers have lost their lives due to the restrictions on movement and the frustration that comes with seeking permission to go see a health provider or deliver babies. Many mothers have now resorted to doing home deliveries, delivering with traditional birth attendants or small drug shops casting them into a great risk of death and paying copious amounts of money for very poor quality services.

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