I am not among the marginalized women. In most cases I have choices, I have always had an income or at least means to pick my bills, and I have a voice plus a very loving and responsible husband but in 2005 I almost died due to postpartum haemorrhage at a high end hospital in Kampala.
This came back to memory yesterday when I heard the sad news of the passing of Nulluit at IHK yesterday a few days after child birth due to over bleeding (postpartum haemorrhage). At her burial today, people will expound on how God in his most gracious manner and reason has called Nulu. I always ask why God is not calling say British, American women at the same speed, why does he chose to call women in the Third World?
For every prominent woman like Nulu who dies in childbirth, there are hundreds of women less privileged who die unnoticed and today the figure stands at 18 per day in Uganda. For most of the majority maternal deaths we blame the problem on poor medical services in our country but what can explain the death of mothers at Uganda high- end hospitals in Kampala ?
On 1st February 2005,I booked myself in one of Kampala’s best hospital for cesarean birth by choice. The pregnancy I was carrying was so precious to me and my husband since God was due to bless us with a baby boy, the only one among girls. Of course all children are precious but it had been our prayer to God to give us a son.
My Doctor was prompt and my treasured baby was delivered well. On the third day after delivery,I started feeling headache and called a nurse on duty who reluctantly came over to tell me that my Doctor was at another facility and no one else among the Doctors present had authority to prescribe treatment for me. She added that as far as she was aware I was due for discharge and that it wasn’t unusual for a person to feel a headache a few days after a surgery.
In just minutes I couldn’t lift my eyelids and my husband continued to plead with the Nurses around but the answer remained the same.At last my husband got very concerned and called the Doctor himself,fortunately the Doctor though in theatre somewhere else, picked the call.
The Doctor turned up after an hour to find me almost unconscious. When he looked at me and ordered that I be lifted out of the bed, it was noticed that without my knowledge,I had been bleeding too much to the extent that the mattress half shocked in blood. Yet my husband had been by my side but he too hadn’t seen that blood was leaking on the floor!!
The Doctor had to rush to Nakasero to get blood and spent the whole night sitted by my side as I recaptured….I survived by God’s grace. I almost died at the careless hands of Nurses and the My -Doctor-Sydrome.
The Ugandan health system is plagued with many issues, but one of the most glaring for me is linked to attitude. One person correctly observed that in Uganda,” when a student isn’t doing too well in school or there is no money to further her education, she will be forced to consider nursing as an option. Not because she wants to, or because her heart is in it. We train droves of frustrated girls and boys right out of O-level to become nurses because it is a cheap and easy option, and because the jobs are available”.
This is why a nurse on duty in a maternity ward could dismiss my concerns about a headache and make me wait for hours to see a doctor when I could lose my life in the process. This is why so many mothers and babies are still dying. We are limiting the options and the vision of young people and, perhaps inadvertently, not giving maternal health care the importance it deserves. Midwifery and nursing isn’t a last option; it is a gateway to life.
If we are going to prioritize the wellbeing of mothers and babies, we must ensure that our medical workers have the right attitude.One committed, well-trained, and emotionally prepared midwife or Nurse can save lives of mothers. Lastly we need to do something about The my Doctor syndrome in private hospitals,a mother should be a responsibility of a health facility and not one visiting Doctor.
Farewell Nulluait Nambaziira ,you fought a good fight,you died while bringing life to the world and I know that if we are to audit your last hours of life, we may find that there was someone who didn’t do his/her job well…..May other women survive maternal death because of lessons IHK and other facilities have drawn from your death.