By Caroline Ariba
Her arrival into the maternity ward is noticed. She might not be the most experienced midwife at the Kabale Regional Referral Hospital, but she certainly is one of the most appreciated. At 32, Assumpta Namugumya has mastered her craft; pregnancy and childbirth.
Indeed, her supervisor, Jovita Jovita cannot stop singing praise of the young midwife. “When she walks into the ward, you will notice her presence,” Jovita praises Assumpta. “I am at peace when I see her around, because I know that so many complications will be solved.”
Jovita says that the young midwife has also taken to mentoring others at work. “You see, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital is also a teaching hospital and that means that there will be students here to learn from her,” she says. “Many times, they come and watch as Assumpta is working, and they learn a lot.” Even more, the young midwife is still pursuing a Diploma in Midwifery. “You can see that even before she graduates, she is already a better midwife,” Jovita gleefully adds.
The question therefore is; what makes her a big deal? Interestingly though, until about two years ago, Assumpta was only a shy midwife, with a passion, but could not do much. It is at this point that she starts to tell of her journey to a point of this much respect.
“I graduated with a Certificate in Midwifery back in 2009, and started work immediately,” Assumpta who hails from Masaka, says. But at the certificate level, the soft spoken midwife argues, she did not have quite the grasp she has on the practice now. “I knew I wanted to go back to school, but I did not have money, and did not even know where to start from to find the money,” she says in a whisper. Little did she know that a radio advert, barely four years later would solve her dilemma, and quench her thirst for knowledge!
Lady luck smiles her way
It was in 2013 when Assumpta heard that Amref, had committed to upgrade midwives with Certificates to acquire Diplomas through scholarships. “Oh my God, when I heard this, I said, God, this is my chance!” Assumpta’s shrill voice finds strength suddenly. Even then, the Principal Nursing Officer at the Kabale Referral Hospital had seen the young midwife’s passion, and encouraged her to apply for the scholarship.
She did, and she got it. “Yes, I got it!” she repeats, more to herself. The joy in her voice is that of a person whose fate bore hope. “But they said that it was not going to be a normal kind of Diploma, in fact, they said that I would not have to be away all the time as the training was to be conducted through eLearning.’’
“You see, they said that we would be studying, but also working. That was actually the most exciting thing,” the energy in her voice glares. “I was worried if I would be able to get a whole two years away to get my diploma; that is if I ever managed to raise the money!” she exclaims amid laughter.
It got even better, instead of the whole two years; she would be studying about six weeks per semester, and mostly doing a long distance programme. “So, can you imagine; instead of about four months, I would be at school for six weeks, and then the rest would be long distance,” she says excitedly.
‘‘With the training, I can deliver complicated pregnancies. In fact, I can tell that a mother is going to have a complicated pregnancy!” she boasts. “Where necessary, I will Google the problem, understand it in a few minutes and save a mother’s life.” She is proud of herself, but mostly grateful for the opportunity given to her by Amref Health Africa!
The GSK funded eLearning Midwives Upgrading Project in Uganda was implemented between 2010 to May 2020 through a public–private partnership between Amref Health Africa, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as the main funding partner, supported by Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC), Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examination Board (UNMEB) and training institutions. The project is part of Amref’s strategy to address the Human Resources for Health crisis as a means to contribute to better health for Africa. The project allows nurses and midwives to study at their own pace with minimal disruption to their work schedules, taking into consideration the practical oriented nature of nursing education.