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HOW MTN UGANDA’S BED DONATIONS HAVE CHANGED EXPECTANT MOTHERS’ STORIES IN 13 HEALTH FACILITIES

By Joel Mugabi

In 2018, MTN Uganda injected hundreds of millions of Shillings into five hospitals and eight health centres to improve access to healthcare for expectant mothers, promote safe delivery and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates across the country.

The leading telecom supported health centres and hospitals by refurbishing maternity wards and donating beddings such as blankets, mosquito nets, mattresses and beds. Some of the health centres received solar lighting equipment and had their entire water system connected.

Now, almost three years since MTN Uganda spent Shs400m to furnish maternity wards and donate beddings as part of its Access to Healthcare Initiative, we return to some of the 13 health facilities to take stock of the impact of the telecom’s generosity.

During our previous visit at Busiu Health Centre IV in Mbale district some time in 2017, administrators there told us they received about 60 women delivering at the facility every month.  At that time, the facility had very limited beds. Attempts to have the mothers stay for at least 24 hours for purposes of medical review were always futile.

“Initially, we would tell the mother to stay around for 24 hours but when there was no room for the mother to sleep, she would go away,” says Dr Bernard Maumbe, the in-charge at Busiu Health Centre IV, adding that the early departure of the mothers from the health centre was one of the reasons why some of the newly born babies died soon after.

About three babies were dying in a period of three months.  Today, child mortality at the health centre is near extinguished.  According to Dr Maumbe, the health centre now goes three months without recording any deaths, thanks to combined efforts by the health facility and MTN Uganda.

The partnership between the health center and the telecom, that saw the latter donate more beds and blankets to the former, has enabled more expectant mothers to seek maternity health care services and allowed women stay over for a longer period, enabling medical review of the mother and baby.

“Before, we would have around 60 deliveries in a month, but now, an average of 120 mothers are delivering from here but some months peak to 200. Antenatal visits are about 80 to 100,” further reveals Dr Maumbe, adding that hospital efforts of availing medicine have also played a key role in this outcome.

The telecom company also renovated the maternity ward, something Dr Maumbe says has greatly encouraged mothers to visit the health centre to seek proper medical antenatal services. In fact, the impact is far-reaching as Busiu Health Center IV has now graduated to become a referral facility for women from the neighboring towns of Butaleja and Manafwa.

In the Western Uganda District of Kyenjojo, it is the same tale of MTN Uganda giving hope. Kyenjojo Hospital received 30 beds and 30 mattresses from MTN, all of which were fitted in the general ward.

Charles Tusiime, the health officer for Kyenjojo District,  says these beds have been very instrumental in delivering treatment to people from the district.

“The impact, much as patients may not know, is great. One bed can be used by so many people. In a month you find one bed has served about five to 10 people, with a bed occupancy of about three days,” he explains.

He further reveals that before MTN came to the hospital’s rescue, the facility would at times get overwhelmed by the numbers which would force some of the patients to sleep on the floor, a situation they described as ‘floor cases.’

Tusiime says the hospital no longer has floor cases in its general ward because of the MTN intervention. The intervention has also reduced the burden for the hospital, allowing it to focus on other aspects in regards to its budget and procurement.

“What we would have been using for procurement of beds has been diverted to construction of two emptiable pit latrines which have addressed the costs associated with the hospital’s sewerage system,” he says.

Back in Kampala, Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, has lauded the hospitals and health centre staff, noting that MTN is pleased with the impact they have managed to drive in the community.

MTN Foundation led by MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte handed over 10 beds, mattresses, bedsheets and mosquito nets to the district health officer Dr Jonathan Wangisi.

“I am very delighted to see the ripple effect of the donation. It makes us at MTN very happy to see lives of many people impacted and for that I would like to thank the medical staff making this happen. As MTN, we shall constantly seek to find ways of transforming lives of Ugandans,” he appreciated. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com). 

 

 

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