This blog post was contributed by Faatimaa Ahmadi, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.
One year passed. A fruitful year! Last year at this time I was very busy in Iran with developing the idea to take part in Ashoka’s Changemakers.com online competition. Fortunately, I was selected to participate in the Young Champions Program and now I am in my fourth month at the Joyce Fertility support centre in Uganda. I am experiencing a Christmas day in a Christian country and missing Norooz which is the first day of the Persian year. I am missing many other things and of course gaining the other ones to practically turn my idea into reality to bring change in the way of education in maternal health.
I based my idea for maternal health on the educational program in the Iranian context where there is no shortage of health providers and no difficulties in access to health centers and hospital facilities. However, on implementing the idea I am in the Ugandan context where I find the opposite. Here I see a lack of midwives, transportation and hospital facilities in heath systems and many other things. Sometimes the differences in these two different contexts challenge me severely. On one hand we are educating women to go to the health centers, and on the other hand there are health centers without midwives that have little availability.
So far we have introduced our project in two districts. We had 2 sessions with district health committees. The meetings were interactive. However, we learned from this session that the perspective of the health committee in one of the districts doesn’t match with the real conditions of the district. They told us they don’t have any problems regarding maternal health!
But we had earlier visited 2 health centers in this area and we observed:
- An active health centre with a closed maternity ward because the midwife was on maternity leave without a replacement
- Refills in the drug store without the health centre supervisor’s input about the required drugs
- High antenatal care coverage but women were not coming back to give birth in the health centres
- Women that came to the antenatal unit in their fifth month of pregnancy or later
- Doctors and nurses not considering the privacy of pregnant women during their visits (part of their exams were being done in front of a group of people)
- Doctors holding the educational sessions in which the subject was inappropriate to participants needs (the educator was advising the clients about the importance of starting antenatal care at first month of pregnancy while most of the clients were at late month of pregnancy or postpartum period, so it was obvious to see most of the learners not paying attention to the educator)
These days we are now trying to find ways to solve these challenges which have been valuable learning points for us through our activities.