Saving Mothers, Giving Life Explores “Mother Waiting Sheds”

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


This is the fourth 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.

Nakaliga Deziranta rests in a “Mother Waiting Shed”
Nakaliga Deziranta rests in a “Mother Waiting Shed”

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) is exploring an innovative concept aimed at reducing pre-delivery complications – the “Mother Waiting Shed.” The sheds provide at-risk mothers, particularly those traveling from far-off villages, easier access to comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care – essential for averting maternal death and disability. Four waiting sheds, renovated by SMGL with funding from CDC and other partners, have been established at Kibaale Health Center IV, Kakumiro Health Center IV, Kakindo Health Center IV, and Kagadi Hospital. These sheds are just one piece of the comprehensive SMGL program that CDC supports through core strengths in reproductive/maternal health, health systems strengthening, monitoring and evaluation and human resources for health.

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

The system works this way: mothers with a previous scar, a history of obstetric complications, transport challenges, or mal-presentation of the baby are advised to come early and wait in the shed nearer to the health facility. When mothers arrive to give birth, those who still need time to progress in labor are transferred to the waiting shed where they are constantly monitored by midwives who assess delivery progress. This sort of “triage” system allows mothers to be in a safe environment during a critical touch-and-go period for them and their babies. 

Nakaliga Deziranta, a 26-year old mother of three from Kasambya village, understands the value of these innovative waiting sheds.  She had always attended her antenatal care appointments at Kibaale Health Center IV. During her first visit in January 2013, she was given a dose of intermittent preventive treatment for malaria, mebendazole, an insecticide treated net, and tetanus toxoid, and, over the course of her visits, she was identified as an at-risk patient and consequently advised to travel to the health center early—at the first signs of labor. Heeding this advice, Nakaliga left home when she first began feeling labor pain, and, upon arrival at the health facility, the midwife on duty examined her and established that she was in the latent phase of labor. She made a decision to keep Nakaliga in the facility’s Mother Waiting Shed, and, after three days of progressive labor, Nakaliga finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Nakaliga was extremely happy with the care she received while at the shed and then during delivery and has promised to “tell other women to come in time and wait for their time of delivery from the shed.” In rural Uganda, word of mouth may be SMGL’s greatest ally, and other mothers share Nakaliga’s enthusiasm for the waiting shed concept.

Kibaale Health Center IV
Kibaale Health Center IV

“The shed has made it easy for me to deliver from the health facility since I can wait for my time from here,” said Namata Rosemary who was diagnosed with threatened abortion while waiting at the shed. Similarly, 29-year-old Asiimwe Plaxider appreciates the sheds because they allow her husband to stay with her and care for her—critical in her case as she was diagnosed with false labor and waited in the shed for two weeks. She sums up her experience with grateful simplicity, “The midwives are checking on us, this place is comfortable, and I am here with my husband taking care of me.” Addressing these basic yet critical aspects of the delivery process for rural women in Uganda is part of SMGL’s enviable success in encouraging the health-seeking behaviors that the program hopes to engender and facilitate.

“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
Content source: