June in Uganda: SAFE interns at Ibulanku and Lubira health centers

A group of medical and public health students from the University of Texas recently returned from Uganda where they were working on a variety of projects pertaining to SAFE’s e-Ranger motorcycle ambulance program, which was launched just last summer!


Along with SAFE’s Program Manager Mukalu Medie, the group consisted of SAFE interns Danika Brodak and Rica Mauricio who worked with Lubira health center, as well as Brittany Meyers, Youstina Ishak, and SAFE practicum student Paul Tumbu – the subgroup that worked at Ibulanku health center.


Since the e-Ranger program is already established at Ibulanku, the main goal of the Ibulanku subgroup was to assess the overall effectiveness of the program. The group met with the staff at Ibulanku health center to determine generally how the project is faring. They also gathered delivery and antenatal records from the hospital to gauge both how e-Ranger patient information was being collected by the midwives and to see the raw numbers of how many mothers in labor were being effectively transported by the e-Ranger ambulances.


The group also met with MABEDA drama group to assess how the club is using drama performance to promote the use of the e-Ranger motorcycle ambulances in their community.  Community involvement is absolutely essential to the e-Ranger program, because without the community’s support and active involvement, the project would have never been implemented. This emphasizes how important community is in ensuring the health of mothers and babies and families in general! With this in mind, also meeting with the Village Health Teams was helpful in order to discuss their role in community mobilization relating to the use of the motorcycle ambulances to promote safe deliveries – both of women to the health center and of their babies!


Finally, the group at Ibulanku spoke with a former e-Ranger user who shared her experience utilizing the motorcycle ambulance service and asked her if she would help spread the word to other pregnant women in the community. In following with this encouragement, the team also conducted health education sessions for the pregnant women in the antenatal care clinic and discussed with them how to prepare for a safe delivery.


While the e-Ranger program has been running for a year at Ibulanku health center, the program has not yet been established at Lubira, but the SAFE team was working hard to gain the support of health workers and the community at large so that SAFE can launch the program there and thus make the service available to even more mothers in labor! The Lubira subgroup conducted a meeting during which a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Lubira community health center and the Buyanga sub-county community groups. They also met with the Lubira management committee and the health facility staff to discuss the logistics of launching the program.


Also at Lubira, SAFE coordinated many maternal and child health-related activities including having several groups perform dramas about important health topics. SAFE also provided immunizations and conducted HIV testing and referred individuals to the clinic for treatment. The safe mama kit program was also launched, providing mothers with a package of supplies necessary for a clean and safe birth.

Overall, the June 2012 trip was very productive and a great success! The interns paved a great road for the successive group of interns who just arrived in Uganda! The July interns plan on carrying out refresher training with the traditional birth attendants in obstetric emergency response and referral for complicated cases. They are also currently working to follow up on the work done in June on the process of launching the e-Ranger program at the Lubira health center.


Excellent work done by all the June interns, and stay posted for an update about the July trip soon!