According to WHO, Uganda has the 20th highest maternal mortality rate and the 15th highest infant mortality rate in the world. In many developing countries such as, Uganda, even when maternity care services in public hospitals and clinics are free, women are expected to pay for many of the supplies needed for a clean, safe delivery. Although government tries to give free mama kits to mothers who attend antenatal clinics with their husbands and those who delivery at health facility, this has been hard to implement due to budget constraints and due to inadequate supplies; most rural health centres often run out of stock quickly and therefore every pregnant mothers must buy the kit!. It is a policy of the Ugandan government that all expectant mothers must have supplies such as birth kits, soap, cotton, baby clothes and pads in order to be served at any health facility.
The things most women in developed countries take for granted, or don’t have to think about because of baby showers, but in many parts of Africa, the additional cost for even these most basic supplies prevent many women from seeking care for their delivery, holding back many women to deliver unattended at home. Simply because, they can’t afford these items and feel ashamed because of it, so they decide to stay hidden at home, which can be harmful for mother and child. For most Ugandan women, the lack of the mama kit is a barrier that prevents them from having a safe delivery, hence inability to also work towards preventing the spread of HIV from mother-to-birth attendant, as well as preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
Most women in the rural Uganda give birth within the home, largely due to cultural and economic constraints. UNICEF estimates that for every 1,000 infants born in Uganda, 45 will not survive past their first year. It is estimated that only about 32% of women give birth in a setting with a professional healthcare provider. Home based deliveries account for 58% of deliveries and often occurs in unhygienic environments. About 60 percent of newborn deaths occur among babies born at home and the neonatal mortality rate is more than 20 percent higher for rural families (UDHS 2006). It has been proved that even without expensive neonatal care units, 15 to 32% of neonatal deaths can be prevented through the promotion of a few low cost key practices: clean home delivery, hygienic cord care, thermal care, early and exclusive breastfeeding, community-based care for low birth weight (Darmstadt, Bhutta et al. 2005). In an effort to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Uganda, Ministry of Health (MOH) devised the mama Kit as an urgent and cost-effective measure to ensure that child birth is conducted in a clean environment.
LUYODEFO is partnering with Love A Mama Community’s Bloggers for Birth Kits initiative to bring mama kits in the hands of pregnant mothers in Kasese, western Uganda. We are developing Mama Ambassadors to implement this project that will work with health centres and front-line community owned resource persons [CORPs] — traditional birth attendants (TBAs), village health teams (VHTs) and community health workers (CHWs) for the effective distribution of the kits. Mama Ambassadors are volunteers in local communities responsible for encouraging women to go to a hospital/clinic for antenatal checks as well as for their safe delivery. The kits will be distributed to pregnant women during their antenatal visits, hence creating demand for antenatal care that will promote survival of the 2 lives (mother and new born). Also some few kits for emergency cases will be distributed to the traditional birth attendants (TBAs) since some expectant mothers may come for deliveries not having these birth kits. The Mama Ambassadors will also work with TBAS, VHTS & CHWs to train pregnant women on how to maintain good health throughout pregnancy, preparing for their safe delivery and preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
The Mama Ambassadors make scheduled visits to antenatal clinics distributing donated birth which provides a lifeline that can help prevent maternal and infant death. The commitment fee charged helps LUYODEFO to meet costs related to local clearance, pick-up from post-office, transportation to the antenatal clinics.
So far, we have received 300 Mama kits and scheduled antenatal clinic visits has been started; great distribution actions are on-going, and there is still much resources needed.
Feeling touched by the situation of the Uganda pregnant mothers? You can join hands to support this cause to serve and save the mother and new-borne by helping to prepare and or solicit the Mama Kits, or host a party with the intent of raising money for this project. The kits can then be mailed directly to LUYODEFO which will distribute them amongst pregnant mothers in Kasese, Uganda specifically.
The mama kit should have the basic contents listed below; however, any other resources included in the kit are highly appreciated.
- 2 metre (1.25 yard) piece of plastic sheet for pregnant woman to lie on during labour
- ½ metre (½ yard) plastic sheet to provide clean surface for placing the items being used
- 2 pairs of surgical gloves to prevent bacterial infection and HIV
- 1 bar of soap for washing hands
- 1 roll of cotton
- 2 new razor blades to cut the umbilical cord (We recommend wrapping the sharp edges with duct tape for your own safety and for those in Uganda who will open your kit)
- two pieces of cotton thread or tape for tying the cord
- 2 packs of gauze for cleaning the baby’s eyes
Thanks for working hard to give a lending hand and a loving heart to this new project we have started in Uganda.