Project Lead(s): Peter Waiswa
In rural Uganda, lack of planning means healthcare workers often do not know which women in the community are pregnant and may lack basic demographic information, such as where the pregnant women live and when they are due to deliver.
This hampers planning and delivery of preventive and curative care for mothers and babies, and can result in maternal and newborn mortality.
An experimental trial was undertaken in Uganda to test the efficacy of using the village health team (VHT) to give health advice to pregnant women and newly delivered mothers on proper care for babies and themselves, and of linking communities to health facilities.
The project also involved early pregnancy testing in the community to estimate the expected date of delivery, and the use of geographic information system (GIS) data to locate the homes of pregnant women for proper pregnancy monitoring and care.
A voucher system was initiated to allow for mothers to travel to facilities for delivery and bring sick newborns for care.
VHTs received training on how to conduct early pregnancy testing in the community, in addition to training in essential maternal/newborn care.
Results showed that this approach to improving maternal and neonatal care was feasible and quadrupled the number of antenatal care visits (the minimum number recommended by the World Health Organization), as well as leading to a 67% increase in institutional deliveries.
Forty community health workers were trained as a result of the project.
Details of the study have been disseminated through conference presentations.
The project teams plan to continue expanding the intervention beyond the current geographic scope and hope to scale up to target a population of from 2,000 to 11,500 pregnant women and, later, into the entire region.
The Ministry of Health and other organizations carrying health interventions in the district (such as UNICEF, WHO and USAID) will be engaged to achieve greater coordination of efforts around related intervention activities.