Saturday, October 18, 2014

Emergency Obstetric & Newborn Care Saved My Wife & Son

Written by Denis Okwir 

A member and a White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) Uganda trained Citizen Journalist in Lira District. Denis is also Coordinator of Youth for Life Uganda, a community based organization. He tracks progress on maternal and newborn health in Lira District. By doing this, he is holding the Government of Uganda accountable to its commitment to improve life-saving care for pregnant women and newborns at health centers III and IV. 

My wife Anna was expecting our first child on October 13th 2014, but delivered a baby boy on August 1st 2014, two months before her due date! She had been diagnosed with Oligohydramnios [a condition in pregnancy characterized by a deficiency of amniotic fluid]. The doctor told us that the fluid which keeps the baby was over due to ‘leaking’ and that any time; the baby was going to come out. Anna was told to go for a diagnostic scan and the report from the ultra-sound showed that the baby was very okay but the fluid around it was little. This was shocking news to Anna and I. Being first time parents; we had no experience and never heard of such a condition. She was told to go for ultra-sound scanning every two weeks. I bought pads for her every day because she was ‘leaking.’ It was quite costly and worrying. This went on for three months, having started when she was five months pregnant. She was told by doctors to go on bed rest with medication.

Anna breast feeding her baby
On August 1st 2014, her condition worsened and doctors recommended emergency surgery to save her life and that of the unborn baby. Anna was operated successfully, giving birth to a premature baby boy. I feared our child would die and had many sleepless nights because it did not breast feed for two days yet its weight was only 1.6 kg. Our son was kept under intensive care for 12 days and this intensive unit has been very instrumental in reducing numbers of babies dying during birth. Our son, Sam Hopeo is a healthy boy and his mother Anna is a healthy loving mother. We are thankful to God and secondly to midwives at Ogur Health Centre IV where my wife first received care and to Dr. Robert, Dr. Sara and consultant Dr. Tiri at Lira Regional Referral Hospital for their tireless efforts to save Anna and the newborn’s life.

As a citizen journalist and an advocate for safe motherhood, I am now more energized to move around villages and communities to encourage pregnant women to attend antenatal care and deliver from health facilities because it helps to identify complications early enough for appropriate and timely care. My wife had been going for antenatal care regularly and this helped us to identify the problem early.

Call to Government: My call to the Government is to support our health centers III and IV with life-saving equipment to help detect and treat complications during pregnancy and birth early so that they can be addressed. Our health workers should be well motivated and equipped with what they need to deliver quality health services.

Advice to my fellow men:  A responsible husband should play his part when the wife is pregnant. I have had a real life experience of the issues (obstetric and newborn complications) we have been advocating for as citizens under White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. Together with fellow residents in Lira District under ACT NOW TO SAVE MOTHERS campaign, we have been campaigning to Government to increase Emergency Obstetric and Newborn care services at our health centers III and IV in the district-as a result our district has allocated funds to renovate and equip the operating theaters at Ogur and Amach health centre IVs.  Buying food for women is not enough. Husbands, give your wives all the support they need during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth.

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