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Safe Birth Even Here: Midwife Kellen Sanyu works to ensure that no woman dies while giving birth in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement.

19 October 2016

You only need to look at the smiling faces of mothers in Rwamwanja Health Centre III as Sister Kellen Sanyu walks into the maternity ward, to realize that she has made such a mark in their lives. Sister Sanyu is a midwife supported by UNFPA at Rwamwanja Health Centre III. She has been serving at the facility since 2014, thanks to the Government of Japan for the initial funding. Incidentally, she became a midwife on a UNFPA supported Midwifery Scholarship programme that is funded by the Government of Sweden.

“I like serving - monitoring a mother having a safe delivery and a healthy baby makes me happy,” says Sister Sanyu. Indeed, she is happy most of the time because on average she delivers six babies a day. To her, every moment is special. But of course there are those moments that are so memorable. Sister Sanyu narrates of such experience: “There was a time when I was alone on night duty. A mother came in to the facility, it was a referral from another unit.

On examination, I found the baby was already coming, but in the wrong position. The baby was bringing out the buttocks first, instead of the head. It would be very difficult for the head to come out, and the mother was in pain. Then I remembered a tactic we had learned in a workshop sometime back and decided to try it out. I pushed my hand inside and pressed the shoulder of the baby. It came out. Since the baby was already tired, I had to put it on oxygen. Both mother and baby recovered well after some days.”

Sister Sanyu says that the facility hardly registers any maternal death since most mothers come for antenatal visits, and when it is time to deliver, they come to the facility. According to Dr. Franco Inshalla, the In-Charge of Rwamwanja Health Centre III, skilled birth attendance in the settlement stands at 76 per cent, way above the Uganda National figure which is at 58 per cent. Sister Sanyu finds her work fulfilling because midwifery was her dream profession. As a teenager, she took care of her sick mother in Rubaga Hospital in Kampala, until she passed away.

“I nursed my mother for a longtime, and always watched the nurses who took care of her.”

Sanyu says that it was then that she found her calling – she wanted to become a nurse. Then, she did not know the difference between a nurse and midwife. It was until she had enrolled for midwifery course that she went through an orientation and understood the difference. She opted for midwifery. Sister Sanyu’s message to all midwives out there is that they should be self-motivated.

“Midwifery is such a noble profession because we save lives,” she says.

-          Compiled by Prossy Jonker Nakanjako, UNFPA Uganda