Vulnerable mothers-to-be receive antenatal services during COVID-19

Expectant mothers from vulnerable households have received vital antenatal support during the lockdown thanks to the advocacy of women supported by Hope for Justice.

One of the charity’s Cluster Level Associations (CLAs) – an administration body that represents 10 Self-Help Groups – based in Magezi Muliro, Uganda, decided to take action when they realised that some mothers-to-be had limited or no access to sexual and reproductive healthcare during the pandemic.

A mother and her child outside Mulago Maternity Hospital, Kampala. Image, Google Maps

The CLA comprises 10 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) each consisting of about 20 women who are supported by Hope for Justice as part of our work to prevent exploitation. SHGs help avoid family breakdown, which is a major risk factor in child trafficking. They empower people financially and through education and training.

Magezi Muliro CLA represented these SHGs in the Wakiso District of central Uganda by lobbying for antenatal services to be provided in their communities. The CLA networked with The Fortress, a non-profit organisation that provides door-to-door support for vulnerable girls and women.

Members then identified the most vulnerable households and supported The Fortress in distributing essential baby supplies to 14 expectant mothers living in the village of Luggi, west of Kampala. They also handed out Maama kits, which include items for mothers to cleanly and safely give birth, including sheets, cord ties, surgical gloves, cotton wool and soap.

A member of staff at Hope for Justice said: “The provision of these Maama kits and other supplies were vital in helping expectant mothers at a time when they were unable to access transport to health facilities.

“Despite the lockdown, social cohesion among members of the Self-Help Groups and Clusters, which were already well established, has gone from strength to strength. They have mobilised themselves and networked with other institutions to strengthen their communities.

“The CLA is one of the structures that has continued to follow up with the mothers, ensuring necessary referrals to healthcare providers for antenatal care.”

Hope for Justice previously supported the CLA to register as a legal body within Wakiso District and has trained the members in networking, referrals and management of the SHGs.

This has increased their visibility within the community and given them a mandate to share and handle social issues on behalf of vulnerable members of society.