By Umaru Kashaka and Conan Businge
Uganda for the first time will now have a bachelors’ degree in midwifery; at Victoria University.
All the other universities in the country had other medicine related courses, but not midwifery; which is instrumental improving the country’s maternal health.
The course is scheduled to start in the university’s next academic year set to kick off next month.
The new degree course in Uganda comes at a time when the nation is grappling with inadequate health personnel, especially in maternal health.
According to the university secretary Dr. Fred Kakooza, the course will be a two-year programme; clustered in five semesters. “This means that the long holiday breaks will also be used for training,” he explained.
The training will be done in collaboration with Mulago national referral hospital, International Hospital Kampala, and IAA. “But, there are plans to start our own hospital at the former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters in Kitante, on Yusuf Lule Road,” Dr. Kakooza added.
Entrants to the midwifery degree course will have to be holders of diplomas in midwifery; and recognised by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council.
According to the Africa Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) just 38 percent of Uganda’s estimated 11,759 midwives are either registered or have a college education. But, the few educated midwives attend to 80 percent of all births in Uganda’s urban areas and 37 percent on average nationally.
Uganda grapples with high rates of pregnancy-related complications and maternal deaths, consequences of poor healthcare investment by the Government, low education levels and an unmet need for reproductive health services.
Uganda’s 2011 Demographic and Health Survey shows that the maternal mortality rate at 438 deaths per every 100,000 live births.
Statistics show that 24 percent of these deaths are the result of severe bleeding, and many are due to infection, unsafe abortion, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labour.
All these complications are preventable with quality midwifery care.
By getting a degree in midwifery, this might help Uganda meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5–the goals on reducing child and maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive healthcare.
Government stopped midwifery trainings and adopted comprehensive nursing training so that nurses could take up roles of midwives, instead of specialisation.
The midwifery degree course is just one of the 10 new degree courses at Victoria University, following its acquisition by the Ruparelia Group mid last year.
The new Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University Dr. Robert Isabalija, while addressing the press said they had already received approval from NCHE to offer the courses across four different faculties.
The other new bachelors’ degree courses include procurement and logistics, business, banking and finance, journalism and media studies , public administration and management, social work and human resource management.
Among others, the university will also offer information technology and computer science degrees.
The Vice Chancellor said the new courses have been designed to bridge the existing skills and employment gaps in the country.
“This is in addition to four other courses the university has been offering in medicine. They will come in handy as the country tries to grapple with the shortage of doctors and midwives to help curb the soaring maternal deaths,” he stated.
Ruparelia Group chairperson Sudhir Ruparelia said although the current campus can accommodate up to 3,000 students, plans underway to construct another facilities adjacent.
“We have spared no efforts in both re-modeling and re-equipping this university. So far we have invested about $1m (about sh2.5b) and plan to invest about $10m (about sh26bn) in next few years to give it a new strong identity,” he said.
Initially affiliated with the University of Buckingham in UK, which awarded majority of the degrees, the university was established in 2011 by Edulink Holdings Limited, a private company that invests internationally in tertiary institutions of higher education.
It ended its partnership with UB early last year and was later sold off to the Ruparelia Group.