Reducing Maternal Mortality in Soroti, Uganda
At Teso Safe Motherhood Project (TSMP) in Soroti, Uganda, we have a catchment area unlike any other health center. Our target is to offer medical services to women in great need, women living in poverty. There are many health facilities in the areas surrounding Soroti, but women travel long distances to reach our clinic knowing that better and quality care is offered at TSMP - and above all compassionate care.
Recently we learned how important our services are to our patients when we were faced with a very scared young mother of about 14 years. Martha had initiated her prenatal care at another health facility and they recommended she deliver at the main hospital due to her small size and young age. The hospital can be a scary place for a young girl, and so despite the recommendation she dared to come to TSMP in labor. We too were cautious of her small size and worried if she could labor successfully, but we knew caring for her would not depend on just one factor. Together as a team we made clinical assessments and weighed the risks and benefits of caring for her at our birth center. It took clinical judgment, emotional support, counseling our young mother, and skilled supervision. In the end we all knew that anywhere other than TSMP this mother would not receive the emotional support and compassion she needed to carry her through a successful delivery. In Martha’s case, we got it right. In the end she had a normal delivery with a fine baby boy.
TSMP continues to identify what are the barriers to mothers seeking skilled maternity care in a health facility. We work hard to allocate resources to overcome these barriers. We improved maternal access to care by providing transportation through our Bajaj system. This program provides transport to TSMP for laboring mothers who live far from our facility, women whose only option would be to deliver with an unskilled attendant in the village, a situation with no resources to manage complications. At TSMP we ensure our medical supplies and essential medications remain well stocked. Medications such as Oxytocin and Misoprostol can be lifesaving in the event of a postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal mortality in Uganda.
TSMP continues to strive toward being the best by employing skilled midwives, nurses and physicians beyond the national recommended standard for a facility like ours. Most health centers with our standing employ midwives and/or nurses with limited training and experience, but at TSMP we employ not only well trained midwives and nurses but a specialist Obstetrician Gynecologist who is available to our patients daily as well. We also collaborate with health professionals from the US and Canada who volunteer with International Midwife Assistance to enhance our education through continuing medical education lectures, skills training, and direct patient care to maintain the highest standard of medical practice.
We at TSMP believe we are setting the standard for maternity care in Uganda not just by the services we provide but through the compassion with which we offer these services.