“In Times Like These, CHW Shadia’s Care Means Everything” – Jane, a Pregnant Woman in Uganda

In the village of Bamunanika, Masaka District in central Uganda, 25-year-old Jane eagerly awaits the arrival of her third child. “I feel prepared to welcome my baby,” she shares confidently.

Childbirth can be daunting, especially without proper antenatal care. The odds are worse in remote areas, where access to health services is hindered by poor roads, high transport costs, and knowledge gaps.

Care by skilled health professionals before, during, and after childbirth can save the lives of both mother and newborn. This is why Jane is keen on making antenatal visits to Kamulegu Health Center IV, no matter the challenges.

Walking there takes an hour, but the journey could be halved on a motorcycle. Despite the challenges, Jane perseveres through the inconvenience. “It’s safer to receive help at the health center in case of an emergency than if I were at home,” she notes, mindful of her past cesarean sections.

Uganda: CHW Shadia educates her client Jane about proper feeding during pregnancy.

Uganda: CHW Shadia educates her client Jane about proper feeding during pregnancy.

The 2022 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) puts the pregnancy-related mortality ratio at 228 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to WHO, women from low-income countries are 33 times more likely to die from maternal deaths due to inequalities in access to quality health services compared to women in high-income countries.

Living Goods trains and supports CHWs to bridge this gap.

 CHWs are trusted frontline health personnel with basic health training and knowledge who provide primary care to their neighbors and help alleviate pressure on resource-constrained health facilities.

For many in rural areas, CHWs are their link to the formal health system. And this is the case for Jane. Her husband frequently travels for work, leaving her at home with two little ones and a pregnancy that’s almost at full term. She is grateful to know that she has reliable support from someone nearby: CHW Shadia.

“It is such a relief to have CHW Shadia’s number! In case of an emergency, I know I can call her for help,” she admits. Shadia is one of the 230 CHWs supported by Living Goods in Masaka District. She serves about 150 households. Shadia started supporting Jane when the latter was expecting her second child and has continued to do so throughout the pregnancy for her third child.

“The CHW teaches me what foods to eat, and how to look after my children and keep my environment clean,” Jane explains. “On top of that, she encourages me to observe my antenatal schedules” she adds.

The health workers at the health center were impressed with Jane’s consistency and commitment to attending every antenatal visit. They gave her a free mama kit to use during her delivery.

Jane has become a role model and inspiration to other pregnant women. The CHWs’ efforts in mobilizing women to deliver in health facilities are reflected in the national statistics which show that in the last five years, 91% of women aged 15-49 years gave birth in a health facility, attended by a skilled provider, compared to 76% in 2011. As she awaits her newborn, Jane knows that she can rely on CHW Shadia. “In times like these, her care means everything.”

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