What Women Want in Uganda

More midwives to support each other.

Loy Nakakembo had delivered the baby in this photo a day before we met her to ask about her priority ask for quality reproductive and maternal health services. She was glad to find a midwife at the health center when she arrived around midnight with her husband. The security guard, too, was there. However, as labor progressed, the midwife excused herself to quickly pick some supplies. “It is then that the baby came out and fell in the basin that had been put in the labour ward for me to urinate,” she narrates. Loy was by herself. The midwife came back quickly when the baby was out. She panicked. It took only a few minutes for the baby to come out, but every time during labor counts. Although she says the midwife was caring and played her part, she wished there was another midwife to support. Loy is glad her baby did not get any problems from the fall in the basin.

Treatment I can afford.

Nansukusa is seven months pregnant. Many times, women at the facility where she goes for antenatal, and where she delivered her first child, seen in the above photo, women must pay money—UGX100,000 or about USD30—to access delivery services, which should be free since it’s a government facility. “If you do not pay, they neglect you,” she narrated. “Tests are usually done at no cost but again, the facility usually doesn’t have medicine and you must buy it from an outside pharmacy.”

Care from a midwife or nurse—no matter my choice of doctor.

At the health facility Maureen Namugenyi goes to for antenatal and other services, there are in-house doctors and specialists who come in on specific days. When a pregnant woman chooses to see a specialist—e.g. a gynecologist—the nurses and midwives. who are usually the first point of contact. don’t treat the patient well because they think she had selected her personal doctor. who should manage everything about her. Before seeing that doctor, the nurses or midwives must take blood pressure, weight and other preliminary checks. “They [nurses and midwives] need to change their attitude towards women who choose to see private doctors within the facility,” Maureen said. “It’s as if you must only choose the hospital in-house doctors, yet the hospital allows the specialized doctors to come in on particular days, and we pay for this service.”

How to prevent pregnancy.

Vonitah and Jane are seeing many of their friends get pregnant at an early age and would like information about how to prevent early pregnancy and more resources for the same. They are also shy about asking for information on how to prevent pregnancy at the health centers because many health workers think they are still young to be thinking about such things. When we asked them if they would consider condoms, they shied away—showcasing how uncomfortable it is for them to even speak about some of their reproductive health needs.

Referral hospitals should have all supplies to manage complications.

Betty Aseru says that sometimes, women get to a hospital and find that there are no doctors who reside there at night, no electricity and no medicines and supplies for women who have delivered by c-section. “The hospital staff then tell you to go to another hospital,” Betty explained, “which is far away, yet you could have got the services from where you are, and you are even ready to pay for the services but they are not available. It’s painful. You have delivered, are in a delicate situation and need to be referred.”

My husband’s support during pregnancy and childbirth.

Sarah Nabuuma would like her husband to escort her for antenatal, and to be available when she is in labor so he understands what a woman goes through—and in case of an emergency, can quickly arrange for a referral or any support that may be needed. She would like men to also be given information about how they can support their wives for a healthy pregnancy.


Faridah Luyiga is a regional communication advisor at White Ribbon Alliance, where she started in March 2014 as WRA Uganda's communication officer. Prior to WRA, Faridah was an independent media consultant where she managed media and public relations for various clients. She also spent time as a journalist with the Daily Monitor, where she served as health editor, acting editor of Full Woman Magazine and editor of Rainbow Magazine.