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Mobile App helps midwives support safe delivery among teenage mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic

On April 22 in the middle of the lockdown imposed by the Ugandan government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 14 -year old Alice (not real name) from Edobo village in Arua district went into labour.

Lucky for Alice, she knew she had someone to turn to. She called midwife Amaria Bellar Bako who immediately alerted a member of the Village Health Team (VHT) about her condition. Escorted by the VHT, Alice got onto a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and headed for Pajulu Health Centre III.

At Pajulu, Sr. Bako Bellar was on standby waiting for the teenage mother to arrive.

“When I examined her I found that Alice was in active labor but had a borderline pelvis (small pelvis yet the baby was big). We could not manage her condition here at a lower level health facility. I called the District Health Officer who sent an ambulance that transported her to Arua Regional Referral hospital, said Sr. Bako.’’

At the Regional Referral Hospital, Alice delivered her baby safely by cesarean section.

‘’I feel so happy when I support mothers to deliver safely, especially during these hard times. No mother should ever deliver at home,” said Sr.  Bako.

Since 2019, Sr. Bako has been supporting teenage mothers in Arua to deliver safely as part of her work at Pajulu Health Centre. The GetIn App enables midwives like Bako, Village Health Team members and other community health workers to identify, record and follow up pregnant girls in rural areas.

Using geospatial technology, the health workers are able to trace the physical location of pregnant teenage girls, store their vital records and receive notifications about any challenges they may encounter during the pregnancy. The midwives then follow up to ensure that the teenage mothers attend all their antenatal visits and deliver at a health facility under the supervision of a skilled health worker.

The App is currently in use in three districts:  Arua in West Nile Region, and Bundibugyo and Kanungu in Western Uganda. A total of 158 community health workers have been trained to use the GetIn App. 

 

Teenage pregnancy complicated by COVID-19

During COVID-19, when pregnant women are having challenges accessing health facilities, the GetIn App, has helped health workers to keep track of the pregnant teenagers that they have mapped. That is how Sr. Bako was able to continually check with Alice on her progress throughout the pregnancy and finally support her to deliver safely.

In Bundibugyo, VHT Happy Ssalongo is doing just that. “It is easy for me to call the ambulance drivers. So far I have been able to call for ambulances to pick up two pregnant girls from their homes. I had been following them up and knew when they were due for delivery,’’ said Ssalongo, who operates in Kisubba sub- County.

Since the lockdown took effect in March, 156 teenage mothers have been mapped and 30 have been supported to deliver safely according to data gathered from the GetIn dashboard and Health Management Information System (HMIS) data.

By Hope Kirabo and Martha Songa