Manafwa. Manafwa pregnant mothers prefer giving birth with the help of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) despite a government ban of TBAs in 2010.
The mothers say they are very safe giving birth with the help of TBAs who handle them with a lot of love and care.
Ms Justin Namono, 32, a mother of four and a resident of Bumukhama Village, Sisuni Sub-county, says she has delivered all her children with a TBA and has never encountered any pre or postnatal pregnancy challenges.
“She has vast experience and I have named my fourth daughter after her (TBA) because all my deliveries have been successful and many other women can confess to her expertise,” she says.
Ms Joan Nandudu, another mother, says they prefer TBAs since they are polite, allow room for counselling and give extra care during labour and child birth.
“They are available, accessible and approachable compared to the rude midwives in the hospitals,” she says.
Some health centres are out of mothers’ reach, according to Ms Nandudu, which is why many seek solace in TBAs because they can be accessed any time.
“The nearest health centre is far away and at times we may lack the quick means of transport to the health centre,” she says.
Ms Beth Wanzala, a TBA with 25 years of experience, prides herself in saving humanity whenever the need arises.
“I spend sleepless nights due to the overwhelming patients’ turn up. The expectant mothers show up at any time,” she says, adding: “I completely have no privacy since most of the deliveries are conducted in my house.”
She then narrates how she rescues mothers amid heavy rains and dark nights. Women walk from as far as Lwakhakha in Namisindwa District, which is about 30 kilometres away.
“I attend to mothers from more than 70 villages and in a month, I can attend to more than 20 mothers at my home,” she says.
Ms Wanzala, who was also trained as a Village Health Team (VHT) officer in Bumbo Sub-county, says she improved on her skills through the training.
“I have now mastered the art and can ably see through labour and safe deliveries,” she says.
She, however, says she faces challenge of lack of equipment and supplies relevant in conducting safe deliveries such as gloves, surgical blades and mama kits that are a necessity in the process of childbirth.
Ms Grace Wadata, another TBA and a resident of Lutaso Village, says the government should appreciate that they (TBAs) are a link between the community and health centres.
“We offer services that are urgently needed in the absence of the professional health workers,” she says.
The LC5 chairperson for Manafwa District, Mr John Musila, says the TBAs should be incorporated into the health system in the district health centres.
Mr Musila says it is an Africa culture that mothers deliver with help of TBAs.
“It has become difficult to wipe them out because it is a culture,” he says.
Mr Musila says the government should equip TBAs with necessary training so that they can diagnose maternal related complications.
However, the district health officer, Dr Gideon Wamashebu, says the percentage of mother who deliver in the health centres stands 56 per cent, which he said is still low.
He adds that mothers should not rely on TBAs because they are not mandated to conduct deliveries.
“We only encourage them to refer expectant mothers to health centres in their reach. None of them is allowed to conduct deliveries because it out of their mandate,” Dr Wamashebu, says.
Dr Wamashebu says local birth attendants hardly have the basic supplies to necessitate safe delivery and infection control.
“If they can use bare hands, without gloves to handle deliveries, then they are capable of washing and reusing surgical blades,” he says.
Ms Akullo Dianah, a comprehensive nurse at Butiru Chrisco Hospital, says they on numerous occasions received failed cases from the TBAs.
“She says many mothers are compelled to push early before they are due, something that fatigues and weakens them and hence end up in hospital,” she says.
She adds: “We normally receive fatigued mothers who after running short of breath are brought here. Such cases are subjected to caesarean section deliveries, something we rarely recommend,” Ms Akullo says.