Half of maternal and newborn deaths in Uganda occur in the first 24 hours after birth and this calls for quick, well-informed decision making and community-wide awareness of obstetric emergencies to reduce childbirth-related deaths effectively.
It is for this reason that Communities for Childbirth International (CCI) was formed. CC1 is an international organization that aims at improving maternal and child health (MCH) by using sustainable community-based interventions and programs based on the three-delay model of maternal mortality.
In collaboration with stakeholders, including healthcare providers, researchers, and most importantly, community members, CCI launched its first Village Education Program in 2022 and ran it for 6 months. Antenatal care (ANC) has since increased to 21% while the number of mothers who comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on child birth has risen to 85%.
The number of families with financial preparedness for obstetric emergencies has also increased to 20% with 99% of families self-equipped with mosquito nets up from 91% in the previous year. The program has also seen 100% of women deliver at hospitals instead of home births/traditional birth attendants as it used to be.
Seungwon Lee from the University of Pennsylvania took time to observe how communities deal with the complications, illnesses, and struggles before, during, and after childbirth. She observed that while pregnancy and childbirth were generally celebrated in many households, they were viewed as the expecting couple’s solitary responsibility with little or no community support.
Surprisingly when a mother or baby dies due to a pregnancy or childbirth complication, the entire village mourns in unison and quickly contributes to burial expenses.
“We thought this was strange but also an opportunity to capture the community’s potential to come together on maternal, newborn, and child health issues,” Seungwon, the organisation’s co-founder and president said.
The organisation’s program manager, Mohammad Mukalu, said the organization is now focusing on Jinja city but will spread out its wings across the entire Busoga sub-region in the near future to save more mothers and babies.
“Our village-based education program teaches fundamental maternal and child health knowledge to expecting families to promote health literacy and further uptake of preventative measures such as antenatal care and facility-based births,” Mukalu said.
With the tremendous success of the education program, CCI is now expanding to establish a community-based referral and telephone triage system in Jinja City. In partnership with Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, CCI will work on piloting this program in Jinja City and strategically roll it out to other regions.