TO mark WomenÂ¡Â¦s Day on March 8, New Vision holds an annual Women AchieverÂ¡Â¦s Award. The award is meant to recognise the efforts of women doing extraordinary things to change the lives of people within their community.
This year, we would like to recognise women doing their best to save the lives of mothers and babies.
By Chris mugasha
IT is coming to 4:00pm but Rose Kataryebwa has not yet had lunch.
Â¡Â§We have been busy handling many cases of pregnant women while some were delivering in the maternity ward,Â¡Â¨ she says.
Just before she talked to me, Kataryebwa, a senior midwife at the helm of Kitagata HospitalÂ¡Â¦s maternity wardÂ¡Â¦s operation and administration had attended to a woman who had spent three months without having her (monthly) period.
In between all that, she also operates the ultrasound machine to help pregnant women with complications find out the foetusÂ¡Â¦ wellbeing before advising them to accept inducement or a caesarian birth.
Â¡Â§This has helped us reduce cases of maternal mortality,Â¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
Kitagata Hospital is neighboured by several districts with functioning health centre IVs which can attend to pregnancy-related complications, but because of KataryebwaÂ¡Â¦s good care, some pregnant women prefer to get services from Kitagata Hospital.
Â¡Â§They have health centre IVs in their districts but they prefer our services because whoever comes here tells their friends about our services and the care we provide,Â¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
This, she says, has expanded the hospitalÂ¡Â¦s catchment area.
Fatuma Kyomugasho, who travelled from Ntungamo district to seek services at Kitagata Hospital, says: Â¡Â§One time I got fibroids and was worked on from one of our health centres but I later developed complications which resulted into a pre-mature delivery. The next time I developed fibroids during pregnancy, I visited Kitagata Hospital and they worked on me and I carried the pregnancy to full term. Since then, for every pregnancy, I come here (Kitagata).Â¡Â¨
Asiat Nalubega, 19, also travelled from Mitooma district to get services at Kitagata Hospital.
Unfortunately, not all the journeys end up in success. For Judith Kyampeire from Kibatsi in Ntungamo district, by the time she arrived at the hospital, the baby was dead.
Â¡Â§She came to us when it was too late but at least we saved her life,Â¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
Kataryebwa is also the deputy secretary for the Uganda Medical Workers Union and she defends midwives in other health centres, saying: Â¡Â§Midwives and nurses are not rude. Because they are over worked they get tired and say what they should not.Â¡Â¨
She adds: Â¡Â§The maternity ward has one midwife per shift. She needs to give out drugs, carry out ward rounds and receive those in labour. This affects the quality of service delivery.Â¡Â¨
How she started
Unlike many other health workers in government health centres who operate private clinics or drug shops and divert drugs meant for the public, Kataryebwa closed her private clinic in Kitagata Trading Centre in 1990 to concentrate on saving the lives of pregnant women.
At her private clinic, she used to provide antenatal care, health education, labour and post-natal care.
Â¡Â§I closed my business because I found myself too occupied and decided to concentrate on the hospital work,Â¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
She, however, says women still find her at home in Kitagata town where she has a room for counselling services.
What she does
Â¡Â§My home is open for people to access counselling and guidance on HIV/AIDS, especially for discordant couples and those struggling with their marriages,Â¡Â¨ she says.
Â¡Â§Through counselling and testing under the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme, I have helped many HIV-positive mothers and their spouses, and discordant couples adaptÂ¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
After work, she follows up some women in their homes to see whether they are breast feeding and sleeping under mosquito nets.
With assistance from the hospital, Kataryebwa has created outreach programmes to teach women how to improve their health and that of their newborn, family planning and the dangers of using traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who use native medicines.
She is also involved in availing students with sex education, through school health programmes.
She also trains TBAs but says this did not yield a lot of positive feedback because the TBAs became money minded and failed to do timely referral of pregnant mothers to health centres.
Â¡Â§We have taught women, especially those with complications, the advantages of delivering from hospitals where trained people are. This approach has greatly reduced maternal death and neonatal death rates,Â¡Â¨ Kataryebwa says.
Because of her involvement in womenÂ¡Â¦s social and economic issues, Kataryebwa had overwhelming support from the women who asked her to represent them on the board of directors of Kitagata SACCO.
This has enabled her take her message of safe delivery to an even wider scope of people.
Kataryebwa says she faces a challenge posed by the ignorance of pregnant women, many of them not going for antenatal care as is recommended.
Â¡Â§They should attend antenatal sessions at least four times in the course of the pregnancy, but most only attend once or twice.Â¡Â¨
Â¡Â§We fail to assess all their risks,Â¡Â¨ she laments, adding: Â¡Â§Some do not want to spend time in hospital. They only want to come to deliver. Only a few come back for post-natal care because they think after delivery there is no need to visit the hospital.Â¡Â¨
Kataryebwa, who has seen it all for the last 32 years at Kitagata Hospital, recommends that some younger midwives need more training and refresher courses for skill and knowledge development.
Â¡Â§The Government needs to recruit more midwives, doctors, nurses and general health workers on top of procuring delivery instruments/supplies and drugs to enable hospitals deliver good services,Â¡Â¨ she says.
A mother of six, Kataryebwa studied general nursing at Mulago Hospital School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Æ’nShe was posted to Kitagata Hospital where she was mandated to supervise all the hospital wards.
Æ’nWhile supervising the wards, Kataryebwa was always challenged by maternal cases in the maternity wards.
Æ’nIn 1986, she decided to go back to Mulago to attain skills in midwifery.
Æ’nIn 1989, she was registered to practice midwifery.
Æ’nShe later requested to be taken to the maternity ward to help those delivering where she started giving them delivery and post natal health education.
Æ’nShe has attained a diploma in health administration from the Uganda Christian University, Mukono
Æ’nShe has received various trainings with support from the Reproductive Health Uganda on emergency obstetric care from the time of conceiving to the time of delivery and the post delivery time.
Æ’nKataryebwa started to train other
nurses on how to deliver quality
services to mothers.
Æ’nShe is also trained in the prevention of HIV/AIDS from mother to child transmission
Do you think Rose Kataryebwa deserves to be this yearÂ¡Â¦s woman achiever?Vote for her by typing Â¡Â¥winnerÂ¡Â¦ (space) Â¡Â¥Yes, KataryebwaÂ¡Â¦ and send to 8338
She closed her clinic to save pregnant mums