Yesterday was ‘Safe Motherhood day’ in Uganda. There was a day of celebration in our nearby town of Kihihi so a team from the hospital attended. The day was sponsored by the UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund). They are a UN agency for ‘delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled’.
The event was in the fields of a high school. There were lots of marques with local projects, NGOs or health facilities. The high school had a marching band who processed in with other groups behind them and then played the national and East African anthems. Being a trumpet player this was obviously a highlight of my day!
We had a stall advertising the nursing school and the hospital, as well as our health insurance scheme and portable ultrasound machines. We also had two posters that showed projects at the hospital – the waiting mothers hostel, which has seen reduction in maternal deaths in the area and a proposed project to give mobile phones to midwives in neighbouring health facilities to call and let us know when pregnant women requiring caesarian sections are on their way to avoid delays.
The President and Prime Minister had been invited but didn’t attend. The Minister for Health came round all the stalls and then gave an interesting speech. There were lots of speeches, some in English, some in Rukiga. Someone translated for me a speech by a women who I think was the local MP. She was saying that lots of women had told her they are not treated well by the midwives when they get to a health centre to give birth which puts them off attending – a brave speech to give to a field full of midwives!
There was lots of press coverage of the day. A reporter from a TV channel New Vision filmed an interview with Dr Scott, the founder of the hospital who is visiting at the moment, and Dr Julius the gynaecologist and head of clinical services. Somehow I was called across to join the interview and was asked how I was finding my time at BCH, whether I thought I was a role model to girls nearby and what my message to the young girls of Uganda would be. I don’t think I did too badly but am hoping they’ll cut my bit out! On my previous visit to Uganda in 2007 after finishing med school I was once asked in a church to stand up, introduce myself and tell the congregation who Jesus was to me; I didn’t manage to think of a particularly good answer when put on the spot so am glad I have improved over the years! Although I expect I would still find that question a bit tricky…