The Eugene Downtown Rotary Club spearheads this year’s project for the South Valley Rotary Grants Committee (SVRGC). Dr. Robert Nickel, chair of the Eugene Downtown Rotary international committee, discusses how this project promotes antenatal care in the rural Tororo District of Uganda.

Motivation For the Project

There is a strong need for maternal and child health support in the Tororo region of rural Uganda. In Uganda, almost a third of children under five are failing to thrive. In the Tororo sub-region, 41% of children under five are struggling with malnutrition due to early motherhood, lack of clean water, malaria, and inaccessibility to health services.

To relieve these problems, the project team will be working in 8 villages of the Tororo district that have the most difficult health-related problems. A distinct focus will be placed on improving antenatal care (care for pregnant women).

Antenatal Care: The Mission and Focus

The mission of this grant project is to increase access to antenatal and postnatal care for women and primary care for their infants. To accomplish this, fellow Rotarians Dick and Larry conducted community meetings with four different villages. From this, they determined four areas to focus the project’s work.

  1. Improve access to maternal and child health care by use of moto-ambulances
  2. Improve identification of high-risk pregnancies with antenatal ultrasound
  3. Educate Village Health Teams and community members on appropriate maternal and child health care
  4. Support the Rural Health Team (RHT) and local health care providers through Telehealth

Supporting the Rural Health Team (RHT)

Currently, there is a mobile medical group of ten Ugandan clinicians. This team provides medical consultation, referral and direct services to remote villages in Tororo. The grant project will support the RHT by providing additional moto-ambulances.

Funding the Motorcycle Ambulance Service

With funds from the grant, the committee will purchase locally made moto-ambulances. The moto-ambulances will help the RHT transport women for deliveries, appointments, and emergencies.

Providing Antenatal Ultrasound

A second focus is to provide antenatal ultrasound to accurately predict delivery dates. This technology will help identify women with high-risk pregnancies. To ensure success, two RHT midwives will be trained to use the technology.

Training Village Health Care Teams

A third focus is to provide training on appropriate antenatal and postnatal care. Village Health Care Teams will be trained first and then share what they learn with the community. The training will cover family planning, preventing violence against women, and using mosquito nets for malaria protection.

Supporting the Community With Telehealth

To support The Rural Health Team, the grant will include Telehealth services. Telehealth is a digital, remote service for clinician consultation with health care professionals. Currently, the Rotary committee is looking for medical personnel who want to volunteer and support Telehealth.

Planting Seeds of Sustainability

This project is rooted in sustainability, starting with a strong and trustworthy relationship with the Tororo community. The residents have designed the project through local meetings and consultations. Additionally, the Village Health Teams will establish and monitor affordable fees for services such as ambulance transportation, medicines, and medical interventions and testing. They are also planning to discuss a local “insurance” system where families regularly deposit funds. 

The Tororo Water Project

In the Tororo area, access to clean water is a substantial public health issue. The committee is also striving to raise $20,000 to repair up to 20 existing wells in 4 rural sub-counties of the Tororo District of Uganda to address this. They also want to develop a fee system for future maintenance repairs.

Engaging With Our International Community

As Rotarians know well, our power is multiplied when we strive for a common goal. Dr. Nickels encourages us to support this year’s SVRGC project to improve antenatal care in the Tororo district of Uganda.

For more information on the people and organizations of our community, near and far, we encourage you to check out our other blogs.