Evaluation of the Maama project:
|Abbreviations||3||3.2 CHW Home visits||15|
|Executive summary||4||3.3 Maama kits||17|
|Summary of recommendations||5||3.4 Antenatal care attendance – the women’s perspective||19|
|1. Introduction||6||3.5 Antenatal care visits – the clinic perspective||20|
|1.1 Context||7||3.6 Deliveries||22|
|1.2 Maternal and newborn health in Uganda||7||a) Delivery location and birth attendance||22|
|1.3 The Maama Project||7||b) Birth preparedness and transportation||23|
|2. Evaluation methodology||9||c) The role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in delivery||23|
|2.1 Aim and objectives||10||3.7 Newborn health||25|
|2.2 Evaluation design, tools and data collection||10||a) Newborn care practices||25|
|2.3 Study population and sampling strategy||11||b) Umbilical cord care||25|
|2.4 Ethics||11||2.8 Male involvement||26|
|2.5 Data analysis||11||3.9 Mental health||28|
|3. Findings||12||3.10 Family planning||28|
|3.1 Characteristics of project beneficiaries||13||References||31|
Core evaluation team: Linn Persson Berg, Erika Lejon Flodin, Hedvig Berntell, Teresa Marie Kreusch, Tania Neuman, Evelina Linnros, Amrita Namasivayam and Marjan Molemans
Graphic designer: César Augusto Ortelan Perri
ANC – Antenatal care
CHW – Community health worker
NGO – Non-governmental Organisation
SOGH- Swedish Organization for Global Health
TBA – Traditional birth attendant
WHO – World Health Organization
This report documents the evaluation of the Maama project following two years of implementation. The project aims at increasing knowledge of maternal and newborn health in the community and the uptake of health services such as antenatal care visits and deliveries at health facilities.
The project is a collaboration between Swedish Organization for Global
Health (SOGH) and Uganda Development and Health Associates (UDHA).
The CHWs conducted 1231 home visits during the project year. Of the interviewed women, 80% reported getting at least one prenatal home visit and 84% of women received at least one postnatal visit.
The proportion of women completing four ANC visits increased from 12%
at baseline to 86% and health facility deliveries increased from 70% to
A total of 246 birth kits were distributed during ANC visits. Out of the women interviewed, 79% reported receiving a birth kit.
The assessment indicates that the birth kit is a strong motivator for pregnant women to complete four antenatal visits and to give birth at a health facility by addressing financial barriers.
The CHWs and the clinic staff have reported an overall empowerment of the community and a decrease in misconceptions and knowledge gaps.
The community is aware of health issues and the health seeking behavior has increased in the community.
Of the mothers who had received chlorhexidine, 96% used it and 81% used in within 24 hours. All interviewed women had a positive attitude towards the use of chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care.
Summary of recommendations
The need to improve the delivery of kits to the clinic was met during summer 2016 in two ways. First, instead of ordering kits a couple of times per year and waiting for them to be delivered, the supply of kits for a whole year was ordered at once. Secondly, vouchers were made in case the stock does run out, so that mothers can come and collect the kit later on.
The limited capacity of Maina clinic was remedied during the evaluation by the purchase of an extra bed where women who have delivered can take rest before making the journey home.
The CHW have received extra training to be explain the use and application of chlorhexidine to ensure better use in the future. The Maina clinic also has a pictorial on the wall explaining how it should be used.
SOGH should look at the possibilities to help the CHW create a better system to identify pregnant woman and give additional aid, for example in form of a card or booklet, to help them remember all topics that need to be covered in the home visits.
Investigate the possibility to include more items in the kit, especially more plastic gloves. However this is difficult, since the kits are bought in a sealed bag. Another way to accommodate for the lack of gloves would be to supply the clinic with extra gloves.
Make the conditions for receiving a Maama kit more clear for the beneficiaries (i.e. four ANC visits at Maina clinic)
CHWs should encourage the
women in the villages
to go to the ANC clinic earlier during their pregnancy, so they will have time to complete all four visits.
Educate CHW more on family planning and encourage them to pass on the knowledge.
Educate husbands on family planning
Distribution of a mother’s card with the important information about the women’s ANC visits. The card could also be used as a check list at the ANC visits, but also at the home visits by the CHW.
Continue to spread of information in the communities, primarily in the rural areas, with an emphasis to address the importance of men in understanding and taking full responsibility as fathers, through community sensitization taking place monthly.
Donation of bikes to the CHW to facilitate the home visits. Increased compensation for the CHW
A larger facility with more seating areas and at least one more antenatal/
delivery bed and installation of electricity and running water.
The workforce should also be increased, preferably with a midwife. Provision of items that are currently lacking should be provided to the
clinic, e.g. blood pressure machine and a measuring tape.
Extra stock of medicine and rapid malaria tests. Adding rapid HIV, syphilis tests and more options of contraceptives to the stock of medicine.
Strengthen and support the group of single mothers.
long term, it should be considered
if SOGH can
organise a system to make it more easy for mothers to get
to the clinic. For example, a
bodaboda that mothers
in need can call.
Every year 2.7 million infants die during their first month of life (1). An estimated 99% of these deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries (2). During the past two decades, neonatal death rates have out of all low- and middle-income regions decreased the least in sub- Saharan Africa (3): 29 neonatal deaths occur for every 1000 live births in the region, compared to 3 per 1000 in high-income countries (1). At the current rate of change, it will be over a century before an African newborn has the same chance of survival as a baby born in Europe or North America (4), indicating a pressing need for interventions targeting pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn period.
Newborn health and survival are closely related to maternal health. Over half of all maternal deaths in the world are due to preventable causes such as hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders and sepsis. These can be addressed with quality antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, including, completion of four antenatal visits, skilled care during delivery, and postnatal visits during the first week after birth (5). Research has shown that most newborn deaths can be prevented with already available interventions targeting preconception, antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care (6). Skilled care during labor is estimated to reduce neonatal deaths by 25% and a combination of clean birth and postnatal care practices can reduce neonatal deaths due to sepsis and tetanus by
40% (6). Community-based care that includes community mobilization, home visits and improved linkage to health care services has also been estimated to reduce neonatal mortality by 40% (6).
1.2 Maternal and newborn health in Uganda
Even though Uganda achieved the Millennium Development Goal 4 by reducing under-five mortality to less than 90 per 1000 live births, the neonatal
mortality rate still remains high at 19/1000
births. Over one- third (35%) of under-five deaths happen during the first
life. Uganda fell short of achieving the desired 5.5% reduction in the maternal mortality rate of Millennium goal 5. Moreover, the lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy or childbirth remains high at 1 in 44, with 343 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (5). The health care coverage of essential interventions remains overall low in the country. Only 44% of the women meet with the demand for family planning, only 48% of the women complete four ANC visits and only 57% of the women have a skilled attendant present at delivery. Moreover, only 33% of the women receive postnatal care and 63% of women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months (5). There is an equity gap between the richest and poorest, with large differences in an unmet need for family planning, completion of four ANC visits and presence of skilled attendant at delivery (5).
Research conducted at the Iganga-Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site in southeastern Uganda has contributed significantly to the knowledge on the state of newborn health in rural Uganda. The research indicates that that 54% of newborn deaths occur away from a health facility and half of all newborn deaths are linked to a delay in the decision to seek care. Most newborn deaths in the area happen during the first week of life: 47% during the first 24 hours, and 78% during the first seven days (7). An additional challenge is the lack of knowledge regarding safe newborn care practices, with coverage ranging from 38% for clean cord care, 42% for optimal thermal care and 57% for exclusive breastfeeding (8).
1.3 The Maama Project
To address the risks mothers and newborns
in Uganda, SOGH developed
maternal and newborn health
project together with
(UDHA). The Maama Project covers Maina
Parish, located in Mayuge District in southeastern
Uganda. The project area consists of five villages (Mwezi, Kyete, Maina, Girigiri and Bulondo) and a private health center financed by the partner NGO UDHA. The health center is classified as level II, denoting the most basic level of facility health care out of four possible levels, with village health teams comprising level I. The Maama Project follows the recommendations outlined in a joint statement by WHO and UNICEF that recommends the uptake of a home visit strategy to reduce newborn deaths (9). The project is based on a community model of two prenatal and three postnatal home visits that has been tested and evaluated by several studies (10–16), including the Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST) conducted in Iganga and Mayuge districts (17,18).
Project activities are carried out by CHWs who have been picked out by local leaders and trained by staff from the Iganga-Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site. CHW’s main role is to identify pregnant women and provide two prenatal and three postnatal home visits (on days 1, 3 and
7 after birth).
During postnatal visits, the CHW counsels the woman on safe newborn care practices and family planning. The CHWs have also been trained to identify low birth weight babies and provide referrals to health facilities.
Furthermore, to promote hygienic practices during deliveries, the project includes the provision of birth kits (Maama kits), which are pre- prepared, packaged, single-use kits that contain a selection of items pivotal to a hygienic delivery. The kit contains two pairs of sterile gloves, cotton wool, sterile blade, a preparation sheet, a plastic sheet, soap, cord tires and a new child growth and postnatal clinic card. The birth kits are provided by the health facility to pregnant women on their fourth antenatal visit, acting as an incentive for the women to attend ANC four times.
In summary, a pregnant
woman in the project area receives two home visits from a CHW and visits
a health facility four times
during her pregnancy. On the fourth visit
she receives a Maama kit, which can be used during a facility- or home delivery. After delivery, she receives three postnatal home visits
from the CHW.
2. Evaluation methodology
2.1 Aim and objectives
The aim of the evaluation was to assess to which extent the Maama Project has been successful in improving maternal and newborn health in Maina Parish.
The main objective of the evaluation was to describe the change in the community regarding attitudes and behaviors related to maternal and newborn health following two years of implementation. A secondary objective was to identify challenges of the project and remaining barriers related to health service uptake, as well as ways to develop and expand the project.
The qualitative and quantitative key indicators investigated were: Completion of four ANC visits
Delivery with a skilled birth attendant
Uptake and knowledge of safe newborn care practices
Number and timing of home visits
Services and education provided during the home visits
Services and education provided during visits at the Maina clinic
The role and use of Maama kits
The role of community health workers in attitude and behavior change
Perceptions of the successes and challenges of the project
The mental health of the women, during and after pregnancy
Male involvement in maternal health, newborn care and antenatal care
The use of Chlorhexidine, a disinfectant for the umbilical cord stump
Due to the relatively small number of estimated pregnancies and deliveries in the project area and the small sample size in this evaluation,
effect of the project on
maternal or newborn mortality, which are rare outcomes in themselves, could not be investigated.
2.2 Evaluation design, tools and data collection
A mixed-methods design was used
to assess the effectiveness
of the project. During the evaluation period, both quantitative and qualitative
data were collected
through interviews and a surveys. Data collected at baseline
the project year (2015-2016) were included
in the analysis. The interview tools were developed in English
by the evaluation team consisting of eight SOGH interns.
Three Lusoga- speaking interpreters worked in the evaluation. While two female interpreters who were not
the project interpreted the majority of interviews, the male
manager interpreted the interviews on male involvement, one interview with a CHW and three interviews with mothers
during one field
day. The evaluation
group made this decision
because it was suggested that the husbands would feel more comfortable with a
Beneficiary interviews served as the main source of quantitative data. A modified questionnaire based on the Demographic Health Survey (1) was used to interview program beneficiaries, i.e. mothers in the project area. The final questionnaire consisted of the following components: respondent’s background, reproduction, pregnancy and postnatal care, use of chlorhexidine, contraception, occupation and family economy. Additional questions concerning antenatal care attendance, CHW visits and birth kit use were included. In addition, data from monitoring tools that were filled in monthly by CHWs and clinic staff from August 2015 to July 2016 have been included in the quantitative analysis.
Qualitative data on newborn and maternal health were obtained through semi-structured interviews with CHWs and health care staff from Mayuge health centre and Maina clinic. In addition, qualitative interviews with mothers and fathers participating in the project during the last year and traditional birth attendants (TBAs) were conducted. All interviews were recorded and transcribed.
2.3 Study population and sampling strategy
Inclusion criteria for the mothers for both qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys were i) living in the project area, ii) having given birth during the past 12 months and iii) being available for interviews during the evaluation period. Random sampling in the form of pre- selecting households based on geographical location was trialled, but turned out to be impossible to implement in the local setting, partly because many women worked outside the home and could not be found with this method. Participants were thus identified through convenience sampling. Some were approached with the help of CHWs, who located mothers willing to be interviewed. Others were interviewed during their visit to the weekly immunisation day at the Maina Clinic. A total of 70 mothers were interviewed, nine of which were excluded in the analysis due to their children being older than 1 year. The final sample size was
Five further parties were interviewed qualitatively. These included eleven CHWs from the five villages, the two nursing assistants working at the Maina Clinic, one midwife from the nearby Mayuge Health Centre, one traditional birth attendant (TBA) and four husbands of women in the Maama project.
Informed consent was obtained orally before commencing the interview. The participants were assured that i) their answers would remain anonymous ii) that they had the right to refuse the interview, refuse to answer specific questions or stop at any time without providing an explanation and iii) that their responses would not affect their future health care. Additionally, permission to audio-record was obtained for the qualitative interviews.
2.5 Data analysis
The quantitative survey results were entered into a database in SPSS version 23. New summary variables were created from the data, e.g. a binary ‘completion of 4 ANC visits’ variable. Analyses were performed in SPSS to obtain descriptive estimates of the outcome variables. Associations and differences between groups were tested for statistical significance with Chi-square and t-tests.
The qualitative data from interviews with the CHW, health care staff at Maina clinic and Mayuge, TBA and the husbands involved in the project was content analysed to identify patterns. Furthermore, content analysis
was made on the data from
the interviews with the mothers to provide more insight
Lastly, the qualitative question
items from the quantitative survey were
3.1 Characteristics of project beneficiaries
Table 1 presents the characteristics of the study population. The average age of mothers interviewed was 27.7 years. Close to all women were married and most lived together with their husband. The majority worked as farmers and more than half had completed between 6-10 years of schooling. More
|16 18 12 15 39|
than half of the mothers wanted more children, the average desired number of children being 5.5 (SD1 = 1.4) children.
Mean Age at last
Percentage (%) Number/ Total N
Bulondo Giri Giri Kyete Maina Mwezi
AND LIVING SITUATION
Married/living together with a man as if married
|16 18 12 15 39|
|87 74 25 8 35 5|
|53/61 45/61 15/61 5/61 18/61 3/61|
Married and living with husband Married but not living with husband Separated/divorced
Husband has other wives
|56 34/61 39 24/61 5 3/61|
Other (Born again)
|12 7/61 16 10/61 62 38/61 10 6/61|
11 or more
|10/61 11/61 7/61 9/61 24|
|75 46/61 3 2/61 21 13/61|
Seller of agricultural products
1. SD = standard
deviation from the mean
Mean Age at last
Percentage (%) Number/ Total N
MAKER FOR HEALTHCARE
|39 36 13 12|
|24/61 22/61 8/61 7/61|
Woman and partner together
FOR MAJOR HOUSEHOLD
|10 49 33 8|
|6/61 30/61 20/61 5/61|
|4.82 4.52 25 18 20 59 5.5|
|15/61 11/61 12/61 36/61|
Woman and partner together
|Mean number of pregnancies during lifetime Mean number of births during lifetime|
|FERTILITY AND FAMILY||Has lost one or more children in the first month of life Has had a stillbirth, abortion or miscarriage|
|PLANNING||Currently using a contraceptive method (excl. breastfeeding)|
|Wants more children|
|Desired number of children*|
|MOST RECENT||Most recent birth was a live birth||100|
|BIRTH||Baby from most recent birth is still alive||100|
Table 1. Characteristics of the respondents of the quantitative survey.
mothers who wanted more children as current number of
living children plus number of desired children.
3.2 CHW Home visits
The project monitoring tools indicated that the CHWs conducted 1,231 home visits during the project year 2015-16; each CHW made 103 visits on average. The visits are composed of 862 prenatal visits and 369 postnatal visits. This is more than the 1,021 visits in the previous year, which can partly be explained by the addition of one village to the project area.
Out of the 61 mothers in the evaluation survey, 49 women (80%) received at least one prenatal CHW home visit. That 20% of interviewed women did not receive prenatal visits indicates the need to improve the project’s reach. At the first visit women were on average 4.13 months (SD= 1.65) pregnant, ideally it should occur when being 8-12 weeks pregnant (18). The mean number of prenatal visits was 3.5 (SD=2.0 visits), which exceeds the desired number of 3 visits.
Eighty-four percent (51 women) received at least one postnatal home visit from a CHW. The median number of postnatal visits were 2 (SD= 1,9). The reach thus needs to be improved but the number of visits to those who receive visits meets the desired target.
Forty-seven percent (29 women) reported that they had been referred to a health
facility for something else than antenatal care. The most common reason for being referred was malaria. Other reasons
were stomach pain, headache or bleeding, which are possible danger signs for pregnant women. The frequent use of referrals is a positive outcome.
Baby’s foot measured with foot length card
Topics covered during CHW home visits (N=61)
2014 – 2015
2015 – 2016
Clean cord care Benefits of breastfeeding Thermal care for baby Newborn danger signs
Receipt of Maama kit at 4th ANC visit
Figure 4 shows the topics covered by the CHWs during home visits, as reported by our sample. Overall, slightly less mothers reported the different topics to have been covered compared to year 2014-15 (Fig. 1). Last year’s sample was however more strongly selected for compliant mothers than it is the case in the present evaluation, which might explain the difference. A positive change was observed in the proportion of women who reported that the CHW had measured the baby’s foot, a method to identify low birth weight. This indicates an improvement thanks to the specific training on how to use the foot length card that the CHWs received in summer 2015.
A part of our sample was obtained through the CHWs leading us to the women and the CHWs were sometimes present during the interviews, which may have affected the answers the women gave. No CHWs were present during the interviews conducted at Maina clinic.
There might be cultural factors, such as a tendency towards answering “yes” rather than “no” on questions, that could have an impact on the answers (social desirability bias).
For the next evaluation it might be of value to find another way to ask for what information the mothers received from the CHWs, instead of asking closed yes-or-no questions. In this evaluation they were asked whether or not they remembered being told about this topic. Another way of asking might give more information about the content of what they remembered.
Some CHW indicated that the workload
was heavy, and that they sometimes had to go very far to visit a mother. Therefore, they asked
SOGH if it would be possible
to donate bikes to them. In the long term, an increased compensation should also be considered.
Some mothers did not receive any home visits because the CHW did not know them or were not aware of the pregnancy. A better system to find pregnant mothers could be considered.
decrease in percentage of topics covered by the CHW, might be due to the heavy workload. An extra aid for the CHW to remember them which
topics should be considered, could be useful.
The Maama kit is intended to grant the beneficiaries in the Maama project the items required for a hygienic delivery. It is distributed to the beneficiaries at the fourth ANC visit and thus works as an incentive for the mothers to seek the recommended amount of antenatal care.
The Maama kit includes two pairs of sterile gloves, cotton wool, a sterile blade, a preparation sheet, a plastic sheet, soap, cord tires and a new child growth and postnatal clinic card. A total of 246 Maama kits were distributed during the project year 2015-2016. This is an increase with 47 kits compared to the previous year. According to the monitoring data,
68% of beneficiaries reported using the kit during delivery. For those who did not use the kit the monitoring data does not inform on whether mothers had not received it or chose not to use it. Since none of the interviewed mothers chose not to use the Maama kit, there is reason to assume that it is the first reason.
Out of the women interviewed, 79% (48 women) reported having received the kit. Among the 13 women who did not receive a kit, the reported reasons were that (i) ANC visits took place at the Mayuge district hospital and not at the project clinic (38%) (ii) four ANC visits were not completed (31%) and (iii) the kit was out of stock at the Maina clinic (23%). One woman completed four ANC visits at the Maina clinic, yet as she was referred to undergo cesarean section at a larger hospital in an early stage of her pregnancy, she did not need the kit.
CHWs and health
reported that the Maama kit works as an effective incentive for the women to complete four ANC visits.
“It is easier for the mothers since they receive the Maama kit now. Before it was more difficult for them economically to buy the things they needed for delivery which are in the Maama kit now.”
Peninah, nursing assistant at Maina clinic
At the Mayuge district hospital, the healthcare staff explained that since the hospital is frequently understocked with cotton, clean razor blades, cord ties and other items required for a clean delivery, it is helpful when Maama project beneficiaries bring these items themselves.
Generally, the view among mothers, CHWs and health personnel is that all items in the kit are essential. Some beneficiaries and CHWs reported that the kit should include baby clothes. Healthcare staff at both the Maina project clinic and the Mayuge district hospital as well as some CHWs, emphasized that the kit could be improved by including additional plastic gloves. Another suggestion from the nursing assistants at Maina clinic was to include gauze pads.
In the in-depth interviews, the
women who had received a kit agreed with the view expressed by the health personnel
and the CHWs, namely
that the kit is an important incentive for them to complete four ANC visits and that it helps them save money.
Furthermore, the women expressed that the items in the kit were useful, but also stated that the kit could be improved by including more items such as soap, baby clothes, sheets and a towel for the baby. One woman who reported not receiving a kit as she did not complete four ANC visits, explained that she made one herself by buying the following items: cotton, gloves, clothes, sheets and a razor for the umbilical cord. One interview was conducted with a woman who, due to a quick onset of delivery, was not able to reach the clinic. The family members who assisted at her delivery made use of the gloves and the razor blade, showing how the kit also can be used to make home deliveries safer.
The Maama kits sometimes ran out of stock, then women had to come back later to get it or did not receive it. If this happens too often the incentive for completing four ANC visits is taken away.
Mothers and CHWs ask for more items to be included in the kit. However, the Maama kits are bought in a sealed bag and the manufacturer can not provide more items in the kit.
Improve delivery of kits to the clinic to avoid running low in stock. This was done during summer 2016 in two ways. First, instead of ordering kits a couple of times per year and waiting for them to be delivered, the supply of kits for a whole year was ordered at once. Secondly, vouchers were made in case the stock does run out, so that mothers can come and collect the kit later on.
Investigate the possibility to include more items in the kit, especially more plastic gloves. However this is difficult, since the kits are bought in a sealed bag. Another way to accommodate for the lack of gloves would be to supply the clinic with extra gloves.
conditions for receiving a
more clear for the beneficiaries (i.e. four ANC visits at Maina
3.4 Antenatal care attendance – the women’s perspective
One of the aims of the Maama Project is to increase ANC attendance among pregnant women. Both the CHWs and the health care staff reported an
increase in the number
of ANC visits and a rise in the number
of women who completed four ANC visits since the project started. These reports were confirmed by an analysis of baseline
data, data from monitoring tools and information collected during the
Attending four visits to receive the Maama kit
Cleaning the baby’s umbilical cord using either chlorhexidine or water and salt
Preparing baby clothes
Breastfeeding for 6 months
Preparing money for transport and emergencies
Going to the hospital or clinic for delivery or if they were not feeling well
Exercising and avoiding hard work during pregnancy
Women in the sample (n=61) who attended at least one ANC visit
Baseline data from May 2013 to June 2014 obtained from the records at Maina clinic indicated that on average, 35 women came for an ANC visit per month, with 12% of women completing all four visits. During the first project year (2014-2015), the average number of visits increased by 122% to 78 visits per month, according to the monthly monitoring tools and cross-checked with clinic records. The clinic records indicated that 82% of women completed all four visits.
In our study sample for the year 2015-2016, 98.6% of the women reported attending antenatal care at least once during the pregnancy, comparable to 100% in the previous year and the baseline figure of
94% (Figure 2). A total of 85.7% of women interviewed had completed
four antenatal visits, significantly
of 12% and also higher compared to the estimate from interviews with women in the previous year, which was 76% (Figure 3). Most of the women (82.9%) attended ANC sessions at the Maina Clinic.
When asked to recall five things that they learned from the antenatal care advice they received, most women mentioned:
Preparing themselves for birth
tested for HIV
Women in the sample (n=61) who completed 4 ANC visits
Sleeping under a
mosquito net during pregnancy to avoid being infected with malaria
3.5 Antenatal care visits –
the clinic perspective
The interviews with the nursing assistants and the clinical records gave information about the content of the ANC visits in Maina which was compared to the WHO guidelines (19).
The nursing assistants always included the following information in the clinical records: woman’s age, which ANC visit they attend, number of pregnancies and deliveries, gestational age, expected date of delivery and other diagnoses. There are no free pregnancy tests at the Maina clinic; the women have to buy their own. An insecticide treated bed net is provided by the government and, if in stock, are handed out for free during the first ANC visit. Other preventive measures provided by the clinic include intermittent preventive treatment of malaria, tetanus toxoid immunization, de-worming, iron and folic acid substitution.
The only laboratory test that can be routinely performed at the Maina clinic is the rapid Malaria test. Women are consulted and referred to the Mayuge health clinic for HIV and syphilis testing. There is no machine to measure haemoglobin levels at Maina, and the only way to assess anemia is by looking under the woman’s eyelids and at her skin. A pregnant woman’s blood pressure should be controlled during every visit in order to recognize pre-eclampsia early, yet the clinic’s blood pressure machine is currently broken. Screening for malnutrition is performed by weighing the pregnant woman during every visit. The mid upper arm circumference cannot be measured as there is no measuring tape at the Maina clinic.
The nursing assistants
give the expectant mothers
about pregnancy danger signs, breastfeeding and how to eat healthily.
They also advise the pregnant women about which
items they should bring
for delivery and to plan arrange transportation to the delivery facility in
It is positive that more women are coming to the Maina clinic for ANC visits and delivery, but it is challenging for the small clinic to keep up with the increasing demand. The clinic is only open during weekdays and at daytime, which was mentioned as a problem also by the mothers in the interviews.
Some respondents further noted that there are too few beds in Maina, the rooms are too small and the clinic needs more health care personnel. Currently there are not enough seats and only one antenatal/delivery bed at the clinic. Before the summer 2016 there was only one postnatal bed, but SOGH has managed to provide one more. Another challenge is the shortage of personnel; there are currently only two nursing assistants, who mentioned that they would appreciate more help.
The clinic has no electricity or running water and lacks important medical equipment, e.g. blood pressure machine, measuring tape, bag and resuscitation mask. Mosquito nets and medicines (e.g. Lumartem for treating malaria) that are provided by the government are often out of stock. Two women said during their interviews that they did not receive mosquito nets as promised and three other women said that there was not enough free medicine. Three mothers reported that they did not receive the Maama kit due to it being out of stock.
One of the nursing
assistants also raised the issue that the women are too young when they have children, which
can lead to more complications
during pregnancy and delivery. It can also give rise
and economic problems
long-term. Five women in the survey said that they wanted more information about family planning.
According to the nursing assistants, the major reason why women do not complete all four ANC visits is starting the first ANC visit too late in their pregnancy. On average the women went to their first ANC visit when they were four months pregnant, which is later than the WHO recommendation of 8-12 weeks. Eleven out of 61 women attended their first ANC visit when they were 6 months pregnant. There is no standardized plan for what the ANC visits should include and what information the mothers should receive. The nursing assistants only have the headlines in the ANC clinical records book, which is provided by the government, and their own memory to follow.
Larger facilities with more seating areas and at least one more antenatal/ delivery bed are needed. Electricity and running water should if possible be installed. The workforce should also be increased, preferably with a midwife. Critical items that are currently lacking should be provided to the clinic, e.g. blood pressure machine and a measuring tape. Increasing the number of Maama kits stored at the clinic would also reduce the risk of them running out of stock.
According to the nursing assistants, it would be desirable to have an extra stock of medicine and rapid malaria tests in addition to the governmental provision. The nursing assistants also suggested that providing the Maina clinic with rapid HIV and syphilis tests could possibly increase the proportion of women taking the tests. The possibility to control haemoglobin levels and perform urine analyses would further add to the quality of the ANC care provided at the clinic. The nursing assistants also suggested that the CHWs should encourage the women in the villages to go to the ANC clinic earlier during their pregnancy, so they will have time to complete all four visits.
The information given to the women about family planning by the CHWs and Maina clinic needs to be to improved. Currently, the only available family planning methods are injectables, implants and condoms.
If given resources, the interviewed midwife in Mayuge said that she could arrange family planning training sessions. However, additional family planning methods should be implemented.
Additionally, the distribution of a mother’s card with
information about the women’s ANC visits might increase the pregnant women’s involvement. The card could also be used as a check list at the ANC visits. The nursing assistants gave positive feedback
about this idea.
a) Delivery location and birth attendance
According to the quantitative survey, 89% of mothers delivered their most recent child in a health facility, which is a marginal increase from
86% in the previous project year. Slightly different numbers show in the monitoring data, which includes all mothers who were visited by a CHW after birth. The monitoring files state that 78% of mothers delivered at a health facility in the project year 2015-2016, compared to 67% in 2014-
2015. In any case there is a positive trend towards more facility deliveries.
The quantitative survey recorded that 46% of facility deliveries occurred in Maina clinic, where the two nursing assistants work as birth attendants,
41% in the larger health centre in Mayuge with more midwifes and 13%
in a referral hospital (see figure 5).
The choice of facility differs from the evaluation 2015, where 40% delivered in Maina clinic and 60% in Mayuge health centre. The fact that more mothers delivered in hospitals might indicate a better functioning of the referral system in case of birth complications. While mothers were giving mixed accounts of the treatment in Mayuge, all respondents were very positive about the care provided by the nursing assistants in Maina. The nurses can only offer basic obstetric services, however they also provide ergometrine injections to stop excessive bleeding after birth. This service is also used by home-delivering mothers, as they sent family member to get ergometrine injections from the clinic after delivery, for example when the delivery happened during the night.
Eleven percent of mothers delivered at home (Fig. 5), slightly less than last year (14%). Home deliveries often go hand in hand with unskilled birth attendance, delay in referrals in case of complications and unclean environments. Home deliveries can thus present a danger to the health of mother and newborn (2). The qualitative interviews revealed that while all women prefer a hospital delivery, it is not always possible. Common reasons for home birth were sudden delivery onset and thus trouble reaching the facility. At home women were assisted by a TBA, a relative or a friend. The qualitative interviews revealed that in two cases the TBAs were a mother or a mother-in-law and were paid in cash or in kind. Both of them had planned to deliver at a facility, but the circumstances did not allow it. One of the mothers used a Maama kit during home delivery.
Overall, positive trends
in delivery location were observed. A
greater proportion of
deliveries occurred in health
with skilled attendance and the referral system is possibly
functioning better. Even though home deliveries have
become less common,
portion of women still delivered at
home, often despite
deliver in a facility. It is important to tackle the remaining barriers, some of which are known from similar research (20), so that every mother can deliver in the safest possible setting.
b) Birth preparedness and transportation
Data on birth preparedness and transportation to the delivery facility (Fig. 6) were newly added to the survey this year. 95% out of the 42 women who used motorcycles had arranged the transportation before the onset of labour pains. Around 80% of mothers recalled that the CHW had actively encouraged them to save money for transportation. The message seems to be passed on and can be seen as a project success.
TRANSPORTATION TO PLACE OF DELIVERY
Birth preparedness further includes packing a bag with essential items for delivery that are not provided in the facilities. Almost
all mothers brought a
basin to wash the baby, baby clothes
and a jerry can with water. Almost
everyone who received a Maama kit brought it to the delivery. Moreover, many brought clean cloths, soap, a baby blanket, tea and sugar. The above
indicators were not
the 2015 evaluation, hence
no comparisons can
be drawn. The overall state of birth- and transportation preparedness appears to be positive.
The transportation to the facility took on an average 32 minutes (95% confidence interval: 23-41 minutes). This number is only a rough approximation, as there were doubts about the time estimations given by several respondents. Moreover, 94% of women were accompanied to the delivery, most commonly by the husband, a close relative or a friend.
96% of these mothers
had also previously arranged transportation back home in advance.
c) The role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in delivery
This year we were also able to interview a traditional
birth attendant (TBA) in the village of Bulondo to find out more about
the role of TBAs in maternal health care, particularly around home births. Since 2010, TBAs have officially been banned in Uganda, though they continue
given the poor implementation of the ban (27). The TBA perceived that
since the community
knows of and trusts them, they
are still seen as relevant people in the community, though many TBAs increasingly
refer women to health care centres for delivery.
The TBA further explained that she had been in this role for about 15 years; she had only recently moved to Bulondo, but in her previous location she saw on average 100 mothers in a month. The common practice was that the expectant mothers would come to her (unless it was an emergency, in which case she would go to their houses) and this happened most often in situations where they could not access care at a health facility, due to time or geographical constraints. Items for the delivery (gloves, razor blade, sheet, thread for cord, basin, soap, sugar, pads, clothing for baby, diapers) as well as food are usually brought by the mother; in some cases the TBA would provide food as well.
Before the delivery, the TBA would initially assess the mother’s condition to determine if the birth could take place at home, or if a referral was needed to the nearest health facility. If the TBA could handle the situation, she would assess the approximate time when to expect the baby, and make the mother feel comfortable and provide tea and food until the time of delivery. The TBA would then assist with the delivery and monitor the health of the mother and baby for the following four hours. If the delivery takes place at night, the mother usually stays over and leaves in the morning. In terms of post natal care, the TBA follows up with check ups on the mother one day and again one week after birth and also gives advice on family planning.
Expecting mothers usually know about and plan to deliver at a health facility. However, practical problems such as transport to the health facility can not be overcome in the current project and lead to that some mothers decide to deliver with a TBA.
Limited capacity of Maina clinic. At the start of the evaluation there was one bed for delivery and one bed for resting afterwards. This meant that if two women had to rest after delivery, one had to rest on a mat on the ground. both mothers and health care staff brought this up.
In the long term, it should be considered if SOGH can organise a system to make it more easy for mothers to get to the clinic. For example, a bodaboda that mothers in need can call.
The limited capacity of Maina clinic was remedied
during the evaluation by the purchase of an extra bed where women who have delivered can take rest before making the journey home.
3.7 Newborn health
Almost half of the newborns (44%) had no health problems during the neonatal period of 28 days. The reported problems for the rest of the newborns included malaria (36%), colds and coughs (11%), skin rashes (8%), problems with the umbilical cord (7%) or a combination of these.
a) Newborn care practices
We recorded the prevalence of several good newborn care practices which are recommended by WHO (25). 92% of mothers had the baby put on the bare skin of their chest directly after delivery. Close to all mothers breastfed their children. Ninety-three percent started within one hour from birth, which is more than in the 2015 evaluation (59%). Exclusive breastfeeding in the first three days of life was reported by
83% of mothers, compared to 79% in 2015. The ten mothers who gave their babies something else to drink than breastmilk used warm water, sometimes with sugar. Four women did not produce enough breastmilk and thus needed to supplement. All mothers except for two were still breastfeeding when being interviewed, when over 30% of the children were older than 6 months. Long-lasting breastfeeding appears to be the norm in the project area and may contribute to birth spacing.
Overall, direct skin contact with the baby and immediate, exclusive and long-term
to be strong social norms within the surveyed population.
This was seemingly
already the case before
the project start in 2014. Yet, this evaluation revealed a further increase in immediate and exclusive breastfeeding compared to 2015. Emphasizing
the importance of good care practices during CHW home visits and ANC has likely contributed to this positive development. In contrast, other reports on newborn care in Uganda suggest a more problematic situation (8). The next evaluation could benefit from measuring
a wider range of
safe newborn practices to identify the areas that need improvements also in the project area.
b) Umbilical cord care
Of the mothers in the project area, 36% received the umbilical cord disinfectant chlorhexidine at their fourth antenatal visit. The low proportion could be explained by that the chlorhexidine intervention was initiated in March 2016 and by then many of the mothers already had their fourth ANC visit or their delivery.
Out of the women who received chlorhexidine, 96% (21 out of 22) applied it. The mother who did not apply it explained that she forgot to use it. Out of the women who received and applied chlorhexidine, 81% (17 out of 21) applied it within 24 hours. An important note is that many mothers explained that they applied chlorhexidine multiple times, while they were given a tube for a single time application. This could thus mean that the chlorhexidine is not optimally used. Mothers who did not receive chlorhexidine reported no specific method of umbilical care, or that they washed the stump with water or warm water, in many cases with added soap or salt.
Due to a small sample
study, no conclusions can be made if the newborns
receiving chlorhexidine experienced fewer infections. However, it is known that chlorhexidine effectively decreases umbilical cord infections in
(26). The finding of one infection and three slowly
healing cords in our small sample suggests
a need for intervention. The qualitative interviews revealed that
a positive attitude towards
and said they would like to use it, if
available. Thus, SOGH currently discusses how chlorhexidine provision might be permanently incorporated into the Maama project. Ensuring the gel’s correct application will be
a further challenge.
Stock of chlorhexidine: At the time of the evaluation the Maina clinic had no stock of chlorhexidine. Because of a miscommunication with the field project manager, the rest of the stock had not been delivered to Maina clinic.
Six of the women who reported having received chlorhexidine had delivered before the intervention was started. Two of them delivered at Mayuge health center, where it may have been possible that they received chlorhexidine. The other four delivered at Maina, where we have no knowledge of available chlorhexidine at that time. These answers might be due to a social desirability answer in some cases, in other cases these women talked about when and how they applied it, so there possible explanation is that these women are not always fully informed about what they receive.
Use of chlorhexidine: The chlorhexidine is supposed to be used as a one time application. However, some of the mothers reported that they used it multiple times during multiple days. Multiple use of the received chlorhexidine makes it doubtful that a sufficient amount is used. One of the mothers used the chlorhexidine three times a day for one week, but reported that her child’s cord healed slowly,which could be an indication of unsatisfying results resulting from misuse of chlorhexidine. The misuse could in some cases be explained by that the pictorial instruction was not given to all mothers.
The CHW have received extra training to be explain the use and application of chlorhexidine to ensure better use in the future. The Maina
has a pictorial on
the wall explaining how it should be used.
3.8 Male involvement
In order to improve the results and to sustain the Maama Project in the long run, both mothers and fathers need to be involved. An exploratory investigation was conducted by interviewing four husbands to mothers who took part in the Maama project. The respondents were accessible during daytime, which may contribute to selection bias since the men who stay at home for work, in comparison to men who work away from home, are likely to be more positive to the project due to a higher degree of information and involvement.
As the communities have become sensitized to the Maama Project, CHWs have reported that men are increasingly positive towards ANC visits and the work of the CHWs. One important reason behind the positive attitude is that the project and the Maama kits not only help the women, their unborn and newborn babies, but also decrease men’s work that otherwise would include retrieving items for the birth which is a costly and time-consuming venture.
With sensitization, the men stated that they are more concerned about women’s and newborn’s health and they expressed support of the CHWs, ANC and the project overall. One stated reason for supporting the project was that several fathers now feel less worried when working out of the home as they know that the CHW will be there supporting the wives.
All male respondents stated that they participated in birth preparedness with a CHW and/or
at ANC visits at a clinic and could elaborate on and specify
the ways in which
they and their families had benefited from
the visits. Examples of new insights included additional ways to support their wife
and after giving birth, encouragement of mothers to attend ANC and to give birth at a health facility and additional knowledge about child care. Three out of four fathers had attended ANC
visits with the mother. Of the mothers participating in the survey, 41%
reported that their husband had accompanied them to the delivery.
Potential challenges for male involvement include strong norms of household responsibilities and family roles within the communities. One challenge brought up in some CHW interviews is that men sometimes have had a bad attitude when the CHW goes to see the mother or that men encourage their wife to go to a TBA. Lack of information and understanding of the purpose of the project was suggested to contribute to the men’s behaviour. In addition, there have been occasions when the mother hides the Maama kit from the husband in order to sell the items or to get additional money from her husband (to buy items for the child birth) although she already has gotten a Maama kit for free from Maina clinic. Traditional power structures and lack of communication between the parents and the CHW can thus be a cause of disruption within families. CHWs have also reported that some men need to take more responsibility during the pregnancy period by obtaining items such as clothes for the baby as well as providing transportation money for the mothers to the health facilities.
Recommendations forward for the
Maama Project include
of information in the communities, primarily in the rural areas, with an emphasis
to address the importance of men in understanding
and taking full responsibility as fathers and
not perceiving initiatives such as the
Maama project as a way to avoid responsibility. It is also important to discuss how the family
and the community overall benefit
from increased male involvement. An identified
opportunity to strengthen
male involvement is to increase incentives for the fathers to be more engaged in their wife’s pregnancy. Finally, it is of importance to strengthen
and support the group of single mothers.
3.9 Mental health
Research conducted in Uganda indicates the existence of maternal mental health issues and postpartum depression (21). In order to investigate whether mental health was a field of interest for the Maama Project we created a qualitative tool aimed at CHWs as well as adding questions in the quantitative tool aimed at the mothers. Both tools were loosely based on the Edinburgh scale. After trial in the field and consulting the UDHA staff the tools were modified towards focusing mainly on behaviours as symptoms of mental health problems. Our findings indicate that 16% (10 women) reported that they experienced one or several signs of maternal mental health problems or postpartum depression.
However, out of these women 50% reported that this was due to physical problems such as malaria or pains after the delivery. Of the women who had experienced at least one sign of postpartum depression 70% (7 out of 10 women) did not desire more children which is considerably higher than, 35% among the women who had not experienced any signs of postpartum depression.
Only one of the CHWs said that
she had met a woman suffering from postpartum depression, one
other CHW said that the women
would talk to her if they were sad after a miscarriage or a stillbirth. This result should be interpreted with precaution;
several factors could have had an effect on the validity of the study, such as stigma related to mental health
problems (21) and the tool not being culturally sensitive enough, causing a failure in screening
for maternal mental health problems.
3.10 Family planning
According to WHO, the promotion of family planning, and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples, is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women. Further, WHO claims that the use of family-planning can improve both maternal and infant health as it can prevent closely spaced, high-risk and ill-timed pregnancies and births (22).
According to the quantitative study carried out, 23% (14 women) of the women interviewed reported that they were currently using a modern contraceptive method (breastfeeding not included). Out of these women the most commonly used contraceptive methods were injectables (8.2
%) or condoms (6.6%). Out of the women who did not currently use a family planning method, 52% (24 women) clearly expressed that they intended to use a family planning method later on.
This result is in line with the findings from the qualitative interviews with the fathers who, despite of desiring more children, either used or intended to use a contraceptive method in order to delay the next pregnancy. Among the women who intended to use a contraceptive method later, the most common methods mentioned were injectables, male condoms or female sterilisation.
Out of the women who were currently not using a contraceptive method 10% (5 women) expressed that they were not planning to use a contraceptive-method at all.
Many women replied that they did not use a contraceptive method as it was too soon after the delivery; they either expressed that they were using postpartum abstinence, that they needed to heal, that they were breastfeeding or that they were waiting for their period to come back.
Out of the women who intended to use a family
planning method later on, five women
had concerns regarding the
side effects of certain family planning methods or that
they needed more
information. This made
them delay their use of or reluctant
to find a method that they thought suited them.
Half of the women (31 women) in our survey reported that the CHW had talked to them about family planning. Most women (16) were advised to use family planning or to go to the clinic/hospital for contraceptive counselling in order to find a suitable contraceptive method. Furthermore, most of the women were also given general information about family planning methods and that they could be used in order to avoid getting pregnant.
The findings clearly indicates that most women were aware of the existence of different family planning methods. Using the data we acquired from our survey it is hard to know whether the women were able to space or limit their fertility in accordance with their own wishes. A suggestion is to further investigate the existence of unmet contraceptive needs among the beneficians of the Maama Project. Education, receiving information about the contraceptive method of choice, communication with one’s partner, and finding a suiting contraceptive method has been proven to lead to a continuous contraceptive use [23,24].
planning methods was requested by some of the CHW. Continuous
sensitizing of the community about family
planning methods, including the men,
possibly the CHWs,
be suggested. As certain women experienced negative
side- effects from their previous contraceptive method
(notably injectables), it
that other contraceptive methods, for example
non- hormonal contraceptives, should be made available
at Maina clinic.
The Maama-project evaluation team 2016
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attendants-persist-in-uganda/ Pictures taken by the Maama-project evaluation team 2016