When Aida Kagoya joined Buyinja health centre, deliveries were done by the light of tadooba and mobile phones popularly referred to as katorchi. Six years later, she has transformed it into a place expectant mothers are eager to come to, George Bita writes
Her trademark smile never leaves her face as she makes her rounds in the maternity ward. From one bed to another, she patiently finds out how her patients are feeling.
Not much seems to elude her critical observation. Under her instructions, poorly-laid beds are rearranged, intravenous fluids changed and trash is removed from the bedsides.
Then she enters the labour room to check on the three expectant women in labour. Through the high-pitched screams, she assures them that they will be fine.
Moments later, the contractions subside for one of the expectant mothers and she walks out. The cheerful midwife keeps a watchful eye. An attendant hands her a mug of hot tea.
In Uganda, midwives are ordinarily known for being rude to expectant mothers, some are even accused of insulting mothers. However Sister Aida Kagoya, the nursing officer (midwifery) at Buyinja health centre IV in Namayingo town, is changing that perception.
“If you do not walk up and down the corridor, we may have to opt for a caesarean section. Please do not give up,” Kagoya implores a mother.
Kagoya has won her way into the hearts of expectant mothers from all over Namayingo district and beyond, who feel at home whenever she is on duty.
Kagoya encourages a mother to take her medicine
She even foregoes her free time sometimes, just so she can attend to pregnant women.
When she came to Buyinja health centre IV six years ago, there was no solar power and night deliveries had to be done with only a tadooba (small paraffin candle) for light. Despite the hardships faced, she would persevere and do the night shift single-handed.
“I recall my first time to help an expectant woman deliver at night. There was no paraffin and we sent an attendant to get a small quantity from the shops in town,” Kagoya narrates.
By the time the attendant returned, the baby had already been delivered under light from a Nokia 1100 cellphone popularly called ka-torchi.
Kagoya adds that the leaking roof at the labour ward is a challenge, as it has spoilt the ceiling boards which now hang dangerously from the rafters.“As you attend to a mother, you keep one eye up in fear that the ceiling may collapse,” Kagoya says.
She says that Namayingo requires more medical staff because it is a new district. The district has a population of over 25,000 mothers and needs more than the four midwives at the public health facility.
“On average, we have 56 deliveries per month. This is partly because we have managed to encourage rural mothers to attend antenatal care, and convinced them to deliver from health centres,” Kagoya says.
Zaituna Nabongo, a mother from Nambugu village, says Kagoya deserves credit for the good work she is doing. “I have so far delivered four babies under her care. She is one happy and friendly health worker whom I have never seen get angry.”
Nabongo adds that before solar power was installed, Kagoya would sometimes use her own money to buy paraffin for the tadooba.
Esther Nekesa, a resident of Namayingo town, says Kagoya is very hardworking and often seeks advice from elders.“She is the midwife after all, she could take on an I-know-it-all attitude, but she does not. How I wish all health workers were like that,” Nekesa says.
Dr. Godfrey Kalege, who is in-charge of the health unit, describes Kagoya as a social midwife with a down-to-earth approach to sick people.
“Because I am new in the place, I usually ask her for advice whenever I am uncertain about what to do,” Kalege says.
Born to Samuel and Tabitha Magulu of Buwaga village, Bulange sub-county in Bugiri district, Kagoya attended Namutumba Primary School, then Wanyange Girls’ Secondary School for O’level.
She then joined Jinja School of Nursing and Midwifery. In 1988, she qualified as a nursing officer.
Her first posting was at Bugiri Hospital. In 2001, she enrolled at Mengo School of Nursing and Midwifery to upgrade to the status of nursing officer, midwifery. She returned to Bugiri in 2003. After her appointment as nursing officer, midwifery she was posted to Buyinja health centre IV.