By Petride Mudoola
Inmates at Luzira Women’s Prison no longer have to walk to the prison staff clinic, a kilometre away to give birth.
Family of Africa, a non-government organisation headed by Father Felix Schianameo, in partnership with the Government, constructed a maternity unit worth sh120m to cater for pregnant inmates.
This is in line with the Prisons Act that recommends that pregnant inmates are given special units to allow mothers to bond with their babies, the Prisons publicist, Frank Baine, explains.
The unit, which is adjacent to the Women’s Prison, has a labour ward, doctor’s room, incubation room for preterm babies, a laboratory, prescription room, bathrooms and a ward that can accommodate over 30 mothers.
Mariam Namayanja, 26, serving a 12-year jail sentence for robbery delivered her one-year-old daughter in prison.
It was about midday when her labour pains started. The warder called for the ambulance, but it was at Mulago Hospital, so she had to walk to the staff clinic.
“When I could no longer walk, the warder requested for a stretcher from Murchison Bay Inmates Hospital.”
Namayanja was placed on a stretcher and rushed to the staff clinic.
“While in the labour ward, the warder waited until I gave birth to my baby girl,” Namayanja says.
The doctor handed the baby to the warder who dressed it, while Namayanja was cleaned up and referred to the recovery room. She was discharged two days later, where she was taken to the prison’s sick bay for post-natal care and then returned to the cells.
On the other hand, Harriet Nalwadda who gave birth from the facility could not believe that pregnant women could be imprisoned until she was. “The High Court of Mubende sentenced me to 20 years in jail,” she narrates. Nalwadda was found guilty of killing her step-daughter.
“I asked the prison warder if I could seek the services of a private doctor, but I was referred to the new maternity unit instead,” says the mother of two.
Nalwadda says the midwives at the facility took good care of her during labour and delivery. The prisons department provided her with baby clothing, a shawl and diapers.
The maternity unit
Dr. Joshua Oluka, the medical officer in charge of the facility, says although it has no gynaecologist, there are three midwives. The Prison Medical Services has arrangements with Mulago Hospital for a visiting gynaecologist.
Oluka says the facility only caters for natural births and so far two babies have been delivered from there. The unit received equipment for caesarean births, and will be put to use once the final touches on the theatre are done. When an inmate requires a C-section, she is referred to Mulago Hospital.
Oluka says recently, the health ministry gave the facility drugs and sundries, three delivery beds, one of which is for mothers with disabilities, three sterilisers, machines for washing and five suction machines for babies. The health ministry also allocated the facility sh500m for the purchase of drugs and sundries this financial year.