This is the first installment in a five-part series about efforts to save the lives of mothers in Africa through an initiative called Saving Mothers, Giving Life. Be sure to read the other four blog posts in this series.
It’s not easy being pregnant in Uganda. Nor is it always safe in a country that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) wants to change that.
This novel initiative undertaken by Uganda’s Ministry of Health with ample support and guidance from CDC and other partners is showing promise and raising hopes that Uganda’s hard history with childbirth might be easing.
The hope is rooted in a program whose name captures its essence – Saving Mothers, Giving Life. Unlike earlier efforts that focused primarily on clinical responses to a problem that is both stubborn and sad, SMGL takes a new, more comprehensive approach focusing on often overlooked but critical needs such as reliable and available ambulances, ensuring that clinics are sufficiently staffed with doctors and midwives, and that women are treated with respect and skill so they seek out care rather than avoid it.
SMGL stresses accurate record keeping and surveillance too, working to modernize an old, haphazard approach with one that accurately records every birth, the death of every mother and or infant and the use of audits to ensure accuracy and compliance.
The effort recognizes another critical reality: in much of Africa, a woman’s health decisions are not always her own. Male partners, extended families, and communities have traditionally played influential roles in the type, quality and amount of care a pregnant woman receives. Recognizing this reality, SMGL promotes community involvement and education.
That’s the goal. Whether it succeeds depends on the determination of the people. What follows over the next three days are their stories; the human face of why policy makers in Uganda’s Ministry of Health and at CDC are hopeful, even optimistic that progress is possible.