From Australian hands to health services in Uganda
In Uganda, World Vision Australia, in partnership with the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia), have been integrating clean birthing kits into health programming for the past two years. This partnership began as a result of our shared passion to tackle the overwhelming rates of maternal and infant deaths. Globally, some 303,000 women die in childbirth every year, many from easily preventable causes. On average, 6,000 of these deaths occur in Uganda.
A portion of the clean birthing kits sent to Uganda in 2016 have been integrated into the Australian Government-funded East Africa Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project in Kitgum District. The goal of the project was to improve maternal, newborn and child survival through strengthening the local health system, by improving access to quality services, including health, hygiene and nutrition.
Kits integrated into the project are serving as an incentive for mothers to attend their nearest health clinic for antenatal check-ups, which are essential for monitoring maternal and child health.
The project provides women with a kit at their fourth antenatal check-up. This planned distribution has contributed to an increase in pregnant women in Kitgum seeking antenatal care. This means community health workers can reach them with vital information to improve the health of mother and baby during pregnancy.
The health information provided during antenatal care appointments has also encouraged an increase in the number seeking postnatal care. Postnatal care is critical for ensuring the health and survival of both mother and newborn. Over the three years of the project there has been a 16 percent increase in the number of women attending postnatal care appointments. Clean birthing kits have played a role in this hugely significant achievement.
The project also saw a progressively greater involvement of men, with one local health worker saying, “There is change… men are motivated to move with their women to the antenatal care clinics.” This achievement is important as it encourages men to share the childcare duties, challenging what it has traditionally meant to be a father. Traditionally in sub-Saharan Africa men are in control of financial decision making for birth such as purchasing items for a clean and safe birth, paying for transportation to the health centre and paying for care in health facilities. The increase of men attending antenatal and postnatal care appointments has been shown to increase men’s positive involvement in these decision making processes. When men attend these appointments they become empowered to see the value in investing in a clean and safe birth.
Together with the Australian Government and health service providers in Uganda, you've helped thousands of families provide a healthier, safer start to life for their children.
Written by Lauren Amadei, World Vision Australia