The Ugandan Maternal & Newborn Hub (UMNH)

Background
The Ugandan Maternal & Newborn Hub (UMNH) was formed in 2012 following a scoping study carried out by the Liverpool-Mulago Partnership (LMP). The study was funded by the UK government’s ‘International Health Links Funding Scheme’ to examine the activities of similar partnerships to the LMP also operating in Uganda. It concluded that a number of such partnerships existed but were working in complete isolation, despite conducting very similar activities to one another which could be streamlined to improve efficiency. The LMP received a startup grant of 25,000 from the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) to establish a coordinating body to bring together the various partnerships and enable them to work more closely with one another. An initial workshop was organised in 2012 which lead to the creation of the Ugandan Maternal & Newborn Hub (UMNH). UMNH was initially hosted by the LMP (although this changed to Knowledge for Change in 2015) and comprised a consortium of 8 Health Partnerships based across Uganda. These partnerships were as follows:
  •  –  The Liverpool-Mulago Partnership (LMP)
  •  –  The Basingstoke-Hoima Partnership for Health (BHPH)
  •  –  University Hospital South Manchester-Gulu Link
  •  –  The PONT-Mbale Partnership
  •  –  The Kisiizi Partners Link (Kisiizi-Berkshire Partnership)
  •  –  The Kisiizi-Countess of Chester Partnership
  •  –  The Bristol-Mbarara Partnership
  •  –  The Quicken Trust (Kabubbu Project)
The aim of creating the UMNH was to improve coordination, communication and knowledge/skills exchange between each partnership. All of the partnerships had a focus on improving maternal and newborn healthcare in order to reduce the high levels of morbidity and mortality in these areas in Uganda, in line with the WHO Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5. A number of different projects (detailed below) have been run through UMNH since it was formed including the Sustainable Volunteering Project (SVP), the Infection Prevention Control Project and the Biomedical Engineering Project. Regular UMNH workshops are held to discuss partnership activities, to exchange knowledge, experiences and skills, to develop joint future activities and to stimulate professional volunteering networks. Since 2014, volunteers from other organisations (such as Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and the UK Royal Colleges of Obstetrics, Anaesthetics, Midwifery, Nursing and Paediatrics and Child Health) have also been invited to UMNH workshops to widen networks and facilitate co-working.

 

The Sustainable Volunteering Project (SVP)

The LMP received funding of £495,000 from the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) in 2012 to run a professional volunteering programme. This programme (the SVP) deployed over 60 professional UK long-term volunteers across the UMNH partnership facilities to engage in training and capacity building activities, responding to clearly identified and shared needs within UMNH. Each volunteer came from an obstetric, anaesthetic, paediatric, nursing, midwifery, biomedical engineering or social science background and completed a long-term placement of between 6 and 36 months. The SVP had a strong focus on effective knowledge exchange and implementation, not on service delivery. This emphasised the need for multi-disciplinary and multi-national team-working with the volunteers working alongside their Ugandan counterparts at all time on wards and in theatres and training rooms.

The SVP volunteers completed many varying projects and training programmes responding to the needs of the local staff and patient populations. Such projects included working to reduce caesarian section rates, improving infection control and prevention systems  developing triage systems, functionlising health centres and developing high dependency and neonatal units. It is important to note that the volunteers also benefited hugely from their placements, gaining highly beneficial learning and experiences for their professional careers upon return to the U.K. Examples of some volunteer activities carried out within the SVP are shown below:

The Kampala Obstetric Training Course (May 2014) 

The Emergency Obstetric Training Course was arranged by Dr Maia Walsh (SVP Volunteer), with the support of Dr Helen Allot (Consultant Obstetrician and lead for the Kisiizi Partners Link). The intensive two-day course was designed to take participants through a structured approach to recognising and recording patients’ early warning signs, effective communication, timely decision making, managing complex obstetric and neonatal emergencies and properly stabilising a patient prior to making a referral; these were areas identified as priorities in Uganda. The course was compiled with a knowledge and understanding of working in a challenging and low resourced setting; designed to address the main causes of maternal mortality in resource poor settings in a systematic fashion. The same course had been previously delivered in Kisiizi (three times), Mbarara and Fort Portal.

The Kampala Obstetric Training Course took place over two days at Mulago Guesthouse Conference Centre. It consisted of tutorials and interactive small group sessions, which included simulated patient management scenarios and practical skill sessions such as breech delivery. This format provided participants with the opportunity to ‘learn by doing’.

 

[This page is currently being updated, please come back in January 2017 for more information!]