Better Birth Outcomes at Ugandan Birth Center than US Hospitals: Mother Health International (Atiak)
Mother Health International, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is one of three Compassionate Birth Network Partners in Uganda (www.motherhealth.org). It was a joy to visit their birth center in August. Birth results are far better than US outcomes for maternal and newborn mortality. The comparison to Ugandan maternal and newborn mortality is of course even more stark: Uganda's infant mortality is 62 deaths per 1,000 births vs. Mother's results: 11 per 1,000.
Equally remarkable: the clinic has never lost a mother in the 10 yrs they've been operating!
An average of 90 babies are fortunate enough to be born monthly at Uganda's House of Birth and Peace. Ot Nyal Me Kuc (Acholi language) is in Atiak, near the Uganda - S. Sudan border. I met some of the Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) collective, along with nurse midwife Christine, from the region herself, and Susannah, a US nurse midwife volunteer.
The Ugandan government-approved birth center/clinic is community-focused and mother-centered. It's located in a remote region where the nearest hospital is 75 kilometers away.
Also amazing: the facility is sustainably maintained by solar power and even more important, provides respectful care of mothers and babies from antenatal to postnatal. This includes providing transport and outreach to women's communities when needed.
Key to this successful model is active participation by TBA's, local women who provide a critical link between pregnant mamas and the clinic. Some TBA's have been involved since 2009, and have combined their previous experience with new information and tools provided by Mother Health International. In recognition of completion of three years of training and more years of service, I happened to be there for a joyful celebration, per photos below. As with other birth centers in our Network, there is a palpable sense of competence, safety, respect, and love. It was hard to leave this peaceful, joyful and purpose-driven place!
To find out more about MHI's model, to donate and/or volunteer as a midwife or doctor:
www.motherhealth.org. Founder/Director is Rachel Zaslow, originally from Ashland, OR where Global Force for Healing is located. To contact Rachel: firstname.lastname@example.org.