KAMPALA —Motherhood is a journey that starts right from child conception until the 9 months when the child is expected to be born.
However, expectant mothers require appropriate medical facilities so that both the mother and the un born child undergo the right antenatal checkups as and when the need these are scheduled to happen.
The examinations are meant to avoid any complication that might result into maternal deaths or infant mortality.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals target is to have less than 70 deaths globally for every 100,000 births by 2030. In Uganda, the maternal mortality ratio is 336 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality is 43 deaths per 1000 live births with 42% of the mortality occurring during neonatal period.
World Health Organization defines maternal health as the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Uganda Bureau of Standards estimates that Uganda’s mortality ratio, the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 live births stands at 343 after allowing for adjustments.
This UN target is achievable if we all set out to provide accessible, affordable quality health services especially to the marginalized communities which significantly present higher numbers of maternal deaths. This can only be a success with continuous investment in initiatives that are designed to positively impact these communities.
As a way of enhancing safe motherhood, private companies have joined the cause through various interventions. Airtel Uganda recently donated a mobile ultrasound scan to Bukwo District.
The donated mobile ultra-scan is portable and power efficient making it possible for health workers to access patients wherever they are thus reducing risk and the transport burden on patients.
The Mobile Ultrasound scan is a portable handheld scanner that can be connected to a laptop to provide a clear image of the state of the pregnancy from the comfort of one’s home or even at a hospital.
Doctor Innocent Menyo, a Medical Imaging Technologist, Team leader and Co-founder of M-SCAN Solutions, has observed that at the Bukwo Hospital, mothers who have made use of this ultrasound scan have different unique situation/conditions that have been detected through the mobile ultrasound scan such as placenta previa, twin pregnancies, incomplete abortions, placenta abruption, polyhydramious, big babies, anhydraminios, among others. And they have been saved indeed through cesarean section births.”
These, according to medical experts, are some of the leading causes of maternal deaths in Uganda.
To optimize the usage of the ultra sound, the company as well sponsored two midwives from Bukwo General Hospital to undertake practical training in obstetric ultrasound services.
Cheprot Winnie from Kabunywa village in Bukwo shared how from the ultrasound scan, it was discovered that her baby who was in a great health condition but was very big for her to push. The advice to deliver through operation was given in a timely manner and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and thanked Airtel for the ultrasound scan thus called on expectant mothers to make use of the ultrasound scan services in the hospital just like she did.
Chelengat Winny from Towncell Torasis Ward Bukwo Town Council who often went for antenatal was very surprised after the ultrasound scan to discover that she was carrying a twin pregnancy. All this prepared her and her family for the double blessing as well as a safe delivery as the midwives knew exactly how to handle her till the time of delivery.
Some mothers in Bukwo who for a long time thought they were pregnant or having a pregnancy condition were surprised by the results when the ultrasound scan, when the diagnosis revealed that these were fibroids. Early information from scans then helps in planning and management of complications, in events where there are no complications, it helps in planning for the pregnancy since the mother knows the expected date of delivery. Many mothers and babies have been saved through cesarean section births.
In this age and era, maternal death as a result of no ultrasound scan can be avoided. Life is precious, the medical field is deemed to preserve life through right use of diagnostics. Easy and more penetrating tools make diagnosis even faster and easier. Solutions like M-SCAN come in handy in such situations to offer diagnosis in a split of second when needed most.
Companies such as Airtel continue to shade light on the situation as there is more support needed to get the Mobile ultrasound scan devices into the hands of more health facilities. In light of this, the Airtel Safe motherhood program seeks to offer more training to midwives on how to use the ultrasound devices, after the training the midwives through their hospitals then retain the M-scan so as to be able to offer obstetric ultrasound care to mothers and follow up is made to establish levels of utilization.
As a result of Airtel’s support to Bukwo Hospital, the Ministry of Health recruited a sonographer to operate the Mobile ultrasound scan, which was the first to be delivered to the government hospital in Bukwo district, and in so doing, the hope for the expectant mothers was and continues to be revived.
Ending maternal health in Uganda is a collective effort.