Sunday, 22 January 2017

Update from Uganda

Update from Uganda

I am halfway through a 2 week visit to Uganda with the RCM’s MOMENTUM project.  As the RCM’s Global Professional Advisor I am also the programme leader and responsible for ensuring that we reach our objectives and reporting to our donors (UK-Aid through THET).

(right) Kade Mondeh, Consultant Midwife from London, with midwife Brenda who has been trained as a mentor during this project.  She came in to work on her day off to go through the mentorship paperwork.  Thank you Brenda!

Our programme is a pilot project, testing whether mentorship for midwifery students by midwives works as a concept here in Uganda.  There are three separate but connected work-streams: first, helping the Ugandan Nursing and Midwifery Council to develop a national standard for mentorship; secondly, developing a work-based learning CPD module for midwives to train as mentors; thirdly, working in partnership to improve the clinical learning environment in four pilot sites that represent a breadth of maternity care provision (public, private and faith-based).    The project finishes in April so the next few months are pivotal in ensuring that all steps in the model are established and widely communicated and evidence collected of any change that’s happened thus far.  We also want to ensure that these changes are sustained as far as possible and we’re pleased that our long-term partnership with the Ugandan Private Midwives Association makes this more achievable. 

Student midwives from Jinja and Mengo schools of midwifery who have received mentorship during this project.  Robina, the lead midwife from this Level IV Health Centre, is twinned with Kade Mondeh, a consultant midwife from London.  Robina has participated in our workshops and has trained as a mentor.  Four other midwives at this site have also been trained by Robina and Kade.  There are up to 3000 births per year at this clinic and 80 antenatal visits per day as well as running the postnatal ward, the family planning clinic and other services.  All this with a total of 5 midwives, between 1-3 per shift.  And still we complain in the UK!
Thankfully I don’t have to do this alone!  Six experienced UK midwives, all RCM members with different and complementary skills, are twinned Ugandan counterparts and responsible for different areas of the programme (see here for an earlier blog about our fabulous team ).  Additionally, back in the UK, our Global Projects Officer and the wider RCM team provide essential support and guidance.  This time I’m here with our UK ‘twins’ and we’ve been out in the field this week, visiting all the pilot sites and reconnecting with our Ugandan twins and wider stakeholders.  I’ve travelled many miles and the roads are dry and dusty – there’s been little rain here for 6 months and it’s unusually hot – up to 34c during the day.  Not as hot as Cambodia but still sticky and no aircon or other creature comforts!  Thankfully our guesthouse has a good water supply and the dust can be washed away at the end of the day. 

Some of our UK team enjoying meeting again in at our Guesthouse and catching up on news, sharing photos

Our Ugandan 'twins' visited the UK in October and December (one of them even met HRH Princess Anne with me!) and this has been a great time of reunion, sharing stories and memories.  Yesterday our twins hosted a lunch for us in Mukono with traditional Ugandan food, dancing and an enormous cake!
Evelyne and I at the EMA midwifery education conference in London in December 2016 on the day we met Princess Anne
The amazing cake that our Ugandan colleagues had made for the party
Dancing at the party
This week I’ve had meetings at the Ministry of Health and the Ugandan Nurses and Midwives Council, visited hospitals, health centres and clinics within 100 mile radius of Kampala, met with tutors and students at midwifery training schools and universities and spent much time reflecting, discussion and planning with our team.  Next week we hold a workshop where we bring all the project participants together to reflect, learn and plan together.  This time we are co-teaching with our Ugandan colleagues to ensure that they can cascade the mentorship programme in their own sites.  We’re trying to model ‘learning on your feet’ in the workshop with minimal presentations and lots of participation and movement;  a counter-cultural approach to learning!

Midwife tutor Evelyne with her twin Aine Alam at Kiwoko School of Midwifery

The workshop also gives us a chance to reach out to RCM members who are in Uganda for the longer term; they have helped us to shape our programmes in Uganda and the support we offer to our volunteers.  We’re proud of them and the work that they do.  We look forward to welcoming Professor Grace Edwards, Diane Lockheart and Rachel Haddock (Fishy) tomorrow and hope that they find the stories of success and challenge, the learning and reflection and the future planning helpful and inspiring. One of our volunteers is also using her long weekend off to fly north to Arua, an underserved and remote town on the border with DRC, to visit and offer support to another RCM member (Kate Quarrell) who is teaching midwifery there.  Sisterhood rocks!
Visiting midwives and students in their clinics, hospitals and health centres

I’m grateful to everyone who supports this project and me personally.  Thanks for reading.

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