Maternal & Child Health

Help us decrease the unacceptable maternal and infant mortality rates in war ravaged northern Uganda and support women and children to access safe and affordable healthcare

Did you know that:

  • Less than 1/2 of births in northern Uganda have a skilled attendant present
  • Less than 1/2 of births are in a medical facility
  • Less than 1/2 of births have any antenatal care
  • Less than 1/3 of births have immediate post-natal care

Addressing these issues is saving the lives of babies and mothers.

Every day in Uganda, 15 women die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, 94 babies are stillborn and 81 newborn babies die.

Many of these deaths are preventable

The presence of a trained health care worker, along with basic medicines, vital equipment and a clean environment to work in, can save the lives of nearly-born and newborn babies and their mothers.

Northern Uganda is recovering from decades of conflict. As a result, teenage girls in poor areas are at risk of becoming pregnant due to a lack of education, child marriage or gender-based violence. Social stigma forces them to give birth without medical attention and many girls suffer through childbirth without basic necessities like soap or a clean scalpel to cut the umbilical cord.

As women in Australia, it’s hard to imagine giving birth without a clean and safe environment, surrounded by trained professionals. But for these young women, a safe and clean birth is a distant luxury.

Maternal & Child Health Centre

The facility offers both outpatient and inpatient services for minor surgery, maternal health care, paediatric care, laboratory services, vaccination against killer diseases, reproductive health services. The MCH in Pader has an ambulance on standby, which each day saves lives when it transports women with complications due to childbirth and children with malaria-related anaemia to the nearest hospitals in Kalongo (60 minutes away) and Gulu (2 hours). The team also conduct regular outreaches to remote communities to educate people about family planning and provide medical support to vulnerable mothers and their babies.

The MCH clinic services a population of 300,000, through a staff of five midwives (rostered around the clock to ensure 24-hour care for women in labour), a medical officer, a comprehensive nurse, two laboratory technicians and a number of ancillary workers. Pader District has been ranked in the bottom 20 of 122 districts in Uganda for its poor health services. Already, the MCH is improving outcomes for pregnant women, childbirth, and sick children.

One of CCF Pader’s major initiatives for Maternal & Child Health is the Labour of Love.

Labour of Love

Labour of Love is a voucher system, whereby a pregnant woman is given a voucher and pays only 5,000 Ugandan shillings ($2) – as much as most can afford – for access to services valued at $50. These include skilled antenatal care, a safe and clean delivery (with a birthing kit), monthly postnatal check-ups, and complete immunisation of the baby up to six months. These vouchers are saving lives every day. Imagine $50 being the barrier between you and the safe pregnancy and birth of your children.

Birthing Kits

Included in the voucher is a birthing kit. A birthing kit can give a pregnant mother a safe and clean birth. A few basic necessities can help prevent infection, disease and death for mother and child.

Each kit will
1. Help a mother have a safe birth
2. Give her education about family planning and child healthcare

Many mothers cannot afford to buy their own kit. And without a kit they cannot give birth at the local medical centre or receive medical support. The kits will also be given to pregnant women in remote communities where they often give birth without trained professionals. Other women often help them give birth in isolation and the few items will ensure the births are safe and clean for mother and baby.

The birthing kit contains:

  • Gauze
  • Clean cord for tying the umbilical cord
  • Plastic gloves to prevent the transmission of HIV and other disease
  • Sterile scalpel so old rusty knives aren’t used to cut the umbilical cord
  • Soap
  • A plastic sheet to lie on
  • A wrap for the baby to ward off pneumonia and other illnesses

Future plans

The team plans to build two additional buildings at the MCH in Pader. The first is a neonatal ward so babies are separated from other patients (to reduce risk of disease spreading to newborns) and the second includes a theatre and a blood bank which would save lives by being able to store and administer blood (e.g. Post labour) and conduct caesarean sections.

There is currently no staffed operating theatre in the District. Many lives have been lost when complicated labours could not make it to the nearest hospital in time for assistance.

Expansion across Northern Uganda

In 2018, CCF initiated a mobile MCH program in the districts of Nwoya and Omoro, providing health care services to the population in need through outreach programs in collaboration with the government health facilities. Other services offered includes referrals of mothers with complications and obstetrical emergency conditions to Referral Hospitals, and the distribution of medical equipment to community health facilities.

Midwife training

To improve and sustain the health of its population across northern Uganda, the MCH supports the training of vulnerable girls who have completed secondary education to undergo midwifery/ nurse training. So far 26 vulnerable girls have benefited from the program.