Interview with Esther Madudu

“I am very proud today to represent the work of the midwives in Africa and to raise awareness to the plight of African mothers, give them a voice and draw everyone’s attention to the urgent need for more midwives in Africa.

My health center is deep in the rural areas. It is not fenced, there is no power and the solar panels sometimes do not work. This makes our work very difficult, particularly in the maternity ward. Amref Health Africa had given us head torches that we could use for light at night, but these no longer work, so we use the light from our mobile phones to deliver the babies. Sometimes the mothers come with candles, but it is not easy to do a delivery by candlelight.

There is so much work to do and yet we are very few. We are forced to work day and night. Like today, I have been on my feet all day and have not had time to eat. Most days we just take a walking soda. I do not even have time for my son because of my busy schedule. He is only 10 months old. I decided to take him to stay with my mother who lives in Pallisa in Eastern Uganda because he was spending too much time alone. The housegirl I had employed did not care for him properly because I was not able to supervise her closely.

The heavy workload also makes it difficult to do all of our work effectively. We are supposed to make follow-up home visits to HIV-positive mothers, but we are so tied down at the health center, we cannot make the visits. Because of stigma, women do not always follow our advice because they do not want other people to know that they are infected. So they do not take the Nevirapine (an HIV medication) at onset of labour, and they go ahead and breastfeed their babies, putting their babies at highly increased risk of infection.

Even though I work in very difficult circumstances, I know I do an important job. Besides the training I got in nursing school, Amref Health Africa has given me knowledge and skills in additional areas such as how to handle severe malaria in pregnancy, post-abortion care, immunisation, and complications in delivery. The training that Amref Health Africa gave to the Village Health Teams has helped us greatly too, because most mothers are referred to us in good time for deliveries.”