Bring her home safely: Confronting Uganda’s high maternal mortality rate with emergency OB training

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For immediate release: July 5, 2011
Elizabeth Parsons, Director of International Projects
Tom Clarke, President & CEO

Bring her home safely: Confronting Uganda’s high maternal mortality rate with emergency OB training

July 4th, 2011 kicked off Kissito’s ten-day training in emergency obstetrics (OB) and newborn health at the Mbale Regional Hospital in Mbale, Uganda. More than 30 Ugandan physicians and midwives are participating in intensive, hands-on training modules designed to save the lives of high-risk mothers and their infants.

Kissito recruited OB-GYN and University of Mississippi fellow, Dr. Luissa Kiprono, to lead the training. Dr. Kiprono will be assisted by Nurse Audrey Kirkland, a seasoned practitioner in emergency obstetrical issues, who also made the long journey from Mississippi to volunteer her time and expertise.

Dr. Peter Johnson, Director of Global Learning at Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins University affiliate, was Kissito’s special guest on Day 1 and commenced the training with a midwifery clinic. Dr. Johnson brings twenty-seven years to the field and is one of the world’s most respected midwives.

Furthermore, three medical students from Boston University, Priyanka Vedak, Christopher Johnson and Tony Rianprakaisang, have been deeply involved with the planning and implementation of the training.

“Kissito is honored to draw this kind of expertise to meet Uganda’s great needs,” says Elizabeth Parsons, Kissito Program Director. “Our Ugandan partners are so eager to learn new skills on how to handle OB emergencies. We’re all working together to make sure this isn’t just a one-time event, but the launch of a long term training of healthcare professionals.”

The training is significant in confronting Uganda’s tragically high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR). With 430 women dying per 10,000 live births (compared to 24 per 10,000 in the U.S.), and 79 of every 1,000 infants dying during the birthing process (compared to 6.8 in the U.S.), building skills of the country’s clinical workforce is key to saving lives.

Proper training in OB emergencies could make all the difference for expectant mothers like little Janet, a 15 year-old villager who stole the hearts of the Kissito team in September. After hours of painful labor and heavy blood loss, she and her mother appeared at the Bugabero Health Center IV, a small clinic operated by KHI, which is about a 45 minute drive north from Mbale Regional Hospital. When Janet’s baby began to emerge hand first – and as health clinics in Uganda are not equipped for birth, much less a potentially life-threatening one – the Kissito team rushed Janet and her mother to the Mbale Regional Hospital. Unfortunately, by the time they had arrived, Janet’s baby had died. Janet’s situation was dire as well; Kissito learned during a subsequent follow-up that hospital staff did not remove the baby for a day and a half, resulting in severe post-partum infection.

Thanks to Kissito’s donors, small and large, Janet was able to get the antibiotics necessary to treat the infection. But stories like hers happen every day and many Ugandan women are not as lucky. The lack of appropriate equipment, medication, anti-natal care and well-trained staff all contributes to an alarming number of preventable deaths and suffering for mothers across much of East Africa.

Dr. Kiprono is helping the medical staff in Mbale be better prepared to manage emergency cases and specific complications that commonly arise, like Janet’s. Additionally, she and Kirkland will be training the staff in the use of a Kissito-donated portable ultrasound machine (the first ever at Mbale Hospital!).

To kick off the training on the first day, the second in command to the Federal Minister of Health of Uganda served as keynote speaker and 48 attended Dr. Johnson’s midwifery clinic. 40 participated in Dr. Kiprono’s training as she delivered 15 babies and performed one caesarean section. Two national newspapers, The Monitor and New Vision, covered the opening event as did four radio stations in three different languages.

Like “Kissito Healthcare International” on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@KissitoIntl) or visit our web site to check back over the course of ten days to follow the latest developments.

About Kissito Healthcare
Founded in 1989, Kissito Healthcare exists solely for the betterment and care of human life. We seek to improve patient outcomes in our domestic and global services through a balanced engagement in academics, research and health care delivery. As a charitable organization, Kissito Healthcare is funded by private and government grants and donations. In nine U.S. facilities, we provide post acute care, chronic disease self –management, long term care, assisted living, Alzheimer/dementia care, specialized respiratory care and employment to more than 800 of the country’s most dedicated and passionate healthcare providers. In our global health initiatives, we provide acute care, primary care, pediatric malnutrition programs, maternal and child health programs, and various research programs related to maternal and child health in the countries of Uganda and Ethiopia. Our global and domestic vision is to develop healthcare delivery systems that lower costs and improve outcomes for the world’s most vulnerable populations where resources are extremely limited.

Our internal culture is intensely guided by our four core values of Integrity, Passion, Excellence, and Respect.

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