Immaculate, the Mother

Posted on by Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda


This is the second 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.

Immaculate and her baby Tumukwaste
Immaculate and her baby Tumukwaste (Photo: CDC-Uganda)

Tumuramye Immaculate, a wife and mother of two from Uganda’s Kamwenge District is a success story, a real-life example of the distance between the old ways of childbirth in Uganda and the new, safer more hopeful method through Saving Mothers, Giving Life.

Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda
Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-Uganda

Immaculate gave birth to her first child like generations of Ugandan mothers have before her – in her home, eschewing modern practices and tools. Luckily, all went well.

But then, as she was pregnant with her second child, the 21-year-old Immaculate began having doubts. Members of village health teams, the basic level of care in much of the country, warned her about the dangers of delivering at home, far from basic medical facilities. The worry was amplified by radio announcements stressing more formal care for pregnant women.

Both efforts were part of the Saving Mothers, Giving Life test program, designed for women like Immaculate, in four Uganda regions. It struck a chord.

“My first child came normally, and I delivered at home,” she says. “However, this time round, there was a lot of information going around telling us not to deliver at home.” This time, she visited a nearby clinic. This time, she decided to give birth there.

It was a wise decision. Soon after going into labor, she was taken to Padre Pio Health Center III where a midwife soon examined her. Her normal, uneventful pregnancy had given way to something serious the midwife quickly discovered – a “malpresentation.” It’s a big word for simple and very dangerous development. The baby was in the wrong position and possibly facing the wrong way. Forcing a normal birth could be dangerous to both mother and baby and possibly fatal for the mother.

Her midwife told her she needed to go to the hospital – and soon – for a Cesarean section.

“My heart sank when I was referred to Kagongo Hospital, a private hospital in Ibanda District, which is a long distance away, and the road is not good,” she said. “But then the nurse who referred me told me there was an ambulance coming to pick me up. That settled my heart from worrying about the transport.”

The ambulance, once out of the question for most women, is a key feature of SMGL. Cost, which once was a major barrier, was not an issue. Because she was referred to the hospital by the clinic, all the costs of care and travel were covered by funding provided by CDC and other partners. CDC also supports SMGL by strengthening health systems. 

Two hours after the midwife sounded the alarm, Immaculate was safely at Kagongo Hospital. She soon delivered a healthy boy by Cesarean.

She named him, Tumukwaste which in English means, “Let’s trust God.”

“When a mother bleeds to death, her nation bleeds, and all of these deaths are preventable.” – Lois Quam, former Executive Director of the U.S. Global Health Initiative

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is a U.S. Government initiative that addresses the needs of mothers in labor, delivery, and the first 24 hours postpartum – the time period in which an estimated 60 percent of maternal deaths and 50 percent of neonatal deaths occur. This initiative was launched in Uganda and Zambia as a pilot project in 2011 under the auspices of the Global Health Initiative.

SMGL draws upon the core strengths and specialized expertise of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. State Department. This public-private partnership also involves Merck, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Every Mother Counts, the Government of Norway, and its newest partner, Project CURE. Central to the partnership are the Governments of Uganda and Zambia.

Posted on by Erik Friedly, Associate Director for Communication, CDC-UgandaTags , ,
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2021
Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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