Mother Health International responds to the “three delays” that contribute to high perinatal mortality rates.
Delay in seeking care: Often women do not trust hospitals, are too busy working in the home caring for other children, or are too concerned about the burden of cost and transport to seek appropriate care.
Delay in getting to care: Once the decision to seek care has been made, transport is often a huge barrier.
Delay in receiving care once a mother has reached a health center. It is common for women to experience reaching a health center and find that no doctors or nurses are present to treat them. Many women have stories of delivering babies outside a hospital because it was locked or without staff.
We address the three delays via our Mobile Midwives, Village Ambulance and Emergency Transport projects.
Mobile Midwives puts midwives on bikes and brings them to the most rural areas of their own communities, reaching women who otherwise may not have made it to the clinic.
In the areas that we serve, women are often subsistence farmers working in rural gardens. Taking time to walk all day for prenatal care often means risking food security as gardens need daily attention to produce the amount of food a family needs to survive. Additionally, walking in heat without sources of clean drinking water often leads to dehydration, which can cause preterm labor. Lack of prenatal care can mean preventable complications go untreated or unnoticed before they become life threatening.
Mobile Midwives puts midwives on bikes to outreach into rural villages within a 15 mile radius of our clinic in Uganda. Using the centering model of care, each village receives monthly visits from ‘mobile midwives’ who come with assessment tools, medicine and prenatal vitamins as well as phone numbers and phone credit for the labor line to call and receive help when labor begins.
In this way even the most remote women get seen from early pregnancy, receive integrated labor support, emergency transport services, post partum visits to assess weight, nutrition, flag health concerns and integrate support into family life.
Before our Mobile midwives project began, approximately 27% of women in who birthed at our clinic received regular prenatal care. As of January 2015, 93% of women who gave birth at our clinic, had received a minimum of 4 prenatal visits.
Regular prenatal care ensures that mothers are nourished, STIs and other illness are treated, baby’s growth and well being are tracked and issues noted before they become emergencies. This makes our population of women automatically ‘lower risk’ for seriously life threatening emergencies at the time of birth.
Mobile Midwives addresses: Delay in seeking care: We understand that women seek care from those that they trust. With Mobile Midwives, women are followed throughout their pregnancy and develop in depth relationships with their midwives. Issues are flagged in advance and appropriate transfer is made before emergencies occur. This personal, ongoing relationship means that women do not hesitate to reach out, thus almost eradicating the delay in seeking care.
Village Ambulance: In rural villages like Atiak, many women give birth alongside the road while walking to seek help. They risk their own lives and the lives of their babies when this happens. Many women must walk miles home after their child is born, risking hemorrhaging along the way.
Transport is one of the most important tools we can use to ensure good outcomes. Via a partnership with Pulse, we are the proud owners of two Village Ambulances: Motorcycles with covered beds attached to the back. Villages Ambulances are used to pick women up in labor, bring them to our clinic for labor and delivery, and drive them home post-partum, eliminating several risk factors and saving lives.
The village ambulance is integral to fistula prevention, as no mother in our area must wait for days on end without help in the case of true obstructed labor.
At our clinic in Uganda, each ambulance transports up to seven laboring and post partum women and babies a day, for an average of about 2800 women and 2,800 babies per site, per year.
The Village Ambulance addresses: Delay in getting to care: No woman in Atiak Sub County must wait or walk to receive care.
Emergency Transport: Imagine an obstetrical emergency in the night, 75KM from a hospital, with no vehicle for transport. This is the reality for women all around the world, and until very recently, was our reality in Uganda.
With generous funding from the Segal Family Foundation, this year we have been able to purchase an ambulance for the Mother Health International clinic in Uganda. This ambulance stands by to bring women to the hospital in a timely and efficient manner when complications are detected. In a functioning system, most complications will be detected in advance of emergency and transport will happen long before a bad outcome. An working ambulance is critical to our ability to provide comprehensive services and keep our perinatal mortality rates low.
Donate now to our ambulance fund for fuel and maintenance of this life saving vehicle.