NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2016
I have been fortunate to have Rhi as a mentor on many occasions and we always got talking about her work out in Uganda and going out there as a student. Even though this was earlier on in my training, I always kept the thought of going out there in the back of my mind as its something I have always wanted to do.
November 2016, a two week trip was happening and I was now in my final year of midwifery training. The chance to go came about and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands along with my friend Josie.
This was it, I was going to Uganda for my elective placement. Even though I was more at the beginning of my third year I felt ready to engage in this experience and make the most of every minute and learning opportunity. I was nervous and apprehensive about the trip but all these feelings went away as soon as we arrived to a very warm welcome.
A busy 2 week schedule was ahead of us for our time in Hoima. We visited the local Azur Christian Health Centre IV on many occasions, this is where MAMA is based and assisted the local midwives in practice including deliveries, antenatal and postnatal checks.
The thing I loved the most was we weren’t there as a team to take over the role of the local midwives, we were there to work together, support them and learn from each other.
I just couldn’t believe how well the women coped during labour, all I can say is they simply just get on with it and do all the hard work themselves. I think this is where it comes back to expectations, they don’t have any expectations and just want a healthy baby to love and care for. However here in the UK I think women sometimes have too many expectations of the care they should receive but we do have the resources to enable this. The women in Uganda receive brilliant care with the resources that are available to them. I was surprised just how much they did have and although it may have been basic, it served its purpose and most importantly good outcomes were achieved.
We spent a small amount of time at the Hoima Regional Referral hospital, which is the government hospital in Hoima and the rest of the time we spent doing outreach clinics. Our first outreach clinic we helped out with was in Mbarara where 139 people were tested for HIV and Syphilis and we saw endless amounts of women for an antenatal check. There was always a high number of women who attended outreach and this was amazing because it meant our basic midwifery skills could be finely tuned and I got to use a pinard lots!!
Women not having routine scans also meant you really had to rely on your fundal height measurement as their LMP’s were usually not very accurate either. We were also fortunate to be involved with the very first outreach clinic in Kyabisagazi, although there were not so many women this day, lots of women benefited from us being there and as soon as the word gets around I’m sure there will be a massive influx of women using the available service. Our final outreach clinic for the trip was down in Runga, a large fishing village on the shore of Lake Albert. This was my favourite outreach by far. We firstly walked around the village to mobilise the women and by the end of the day we had seen 71 women, given 28 BCG vaccines given, 57 immunisations given to children and 6 women were treated for Syphilis and 2 for HIV.
We also held 3 mandatory training days in Hoima for the local staff. These days focused on obstetric emergencies and each day there was a presentation on each followed by breakout practical sessions in the afternoon. It was great to see all the local staff putting there skills into practice in simulation and making use of the doll and pelvis we took out with us for teaching purposes.
And how could I forget the time we spent at Mustard Seed Babies Home, an orphanage based in Hoima. All these children have something very special and are all so loving!
I would advise any future students to get involved with any opportunity like this if its something you want to do, you wont regret your decision! I can’t wait to return with MAMA when I’m a qualified midwife!
What an amazing trip we had, it is an experience I will never forgot throughout my career ahead of me as a midwife. I feel really fortunate to have had this experience and share it with one of my best friends from university. I also feel really proud that we are the first two students from the University of Bedfordshire to do something like this during our training.
“We went into the kangaroo care ward, it was like a ray of sunshine: skin-to-skin care is the most effective way of regulating a baby’s heart rate and temperature, as well as helping to initiate breastfeeding and bonding and they were promoting this form of care. With many premature babies being born this was essential to their survival, and it was happening….”
“We were able to observe finely-tuned, fundamental, midwifery skills being practiced at their best – which, dare I say it, may on occasion be overlooked when technology is readily available. That being said, under-resourcing of essential supplies is a massive issue, which, whilst it may arguably lead to well-honed midwifery skills, is a huge challenge to overcome. Even the most skilled midwife has the odds stacked against them when the region has no O negative blood.”
“Unfortunately our 10 days in Uganda came to an end, and I can truly say it has been the best experience, both personally and professionally. It has opened my eyes to how other communities live and made me realise how much we take for granted here in the UK. This is an experience I will cherish forever…”