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Community Empowerment and Participation in Maternal Health in Kamwenge District, Uganda

By: Aaron Muhinda, Joyce Mugarura, Abrahams Mutumba Zahura

The status of maternal health in Uganda has remained poor despite the country’s relatively fast economic growth of the past 20 years. The proportion of women delivering in health units remains low and there is a gap between the numbers attending antenatal services and those delivering in health services. In Kamwenge District, where as in other rural districts of Uganda, pregnancy-related complications are among the leading causes of death and disability among women in the reproductive age group, and there are poorer maternal health statistics than the national average. Kamwenge has a shortfall of health facilities and is underserved in staffing.

The Kamwenge Community Empowerment and Participation in Maternal Health Project aimed to contribute to the improvement of the health of expectant mothers in Kamwenge Sub-county, Kamwenge District. The project involved health workers and community members, including community leaders, expectant mothers, male spouses, and others in Kamwenge sub-county in Kamwenge District. Two HEPS Uganda staff members who attended the regional training working with a team involving HEPS and the Kamwenge district health team facilitated the work between May and November 2007. Lessons were learned about giving more time to community processes, and the value of involving decision makers and community leaders in activities aimed at communities was noted as positive and critical to sustaining and deepening the program and the social changes yet to be produced within the community.