Maternal and newborn health outcomes in Uganda have remained poor. The major challenge affecting the implementation of maternal and newborn interventions includes a shortage of skilled midwives. In 2013, Lira University, a Ugandan Public University, in partnership with Seed Global Health, started the first Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BScM) in Uganda with a vision to develop a Master of Science in Midwifery (MScM) in the future.
Evaluate results of Lira University’s Bachelors in Midwifery program to help inform the development of a Masters in Midwifery program, which would expand midwifery competencies in surgical obstetric and newborn care.
Lira University and Ministry of Health records provided data on curriculum content, student enrollment and internships. The internship reports of the graduate midwives were reviewed to collect data on their employment and scope of practice. Interviews were also conducted with the graduates to confirm the added skills they were able to apply and their outcomes.
The critical competences incorporated into the Bachelor in Midwifery curriculum included competences to care for pre- and post-operative caesarian section patients or assist in a caesarean section, newborn care (e.g. resuscitation from birth asphyxia), anesthesia, and theatre techniques, among others. Overall, 356 students (40.2% male, 59.8% female) enrolled in the BScM program over the period 2013–2018.
Annual data shows an increasing trend in enrollment. Of the 32 graduates in January 2019, 87.6% were employed in maternal and newborn healthcare facilities, and 12.4% were employed in midwifery private practice. Follow-up interviews revealed that the graduate midwives reported positive maternal and newborn outcomes and the ability to practice advanced obstetrics and newborn care skills they acquired from the training.
There is growing interest in a graduate midwifery education program in Uganda for both male and female students. The retention of the graduate midwives in healthcare facilities gives a renewed hope for mothers and newborns, who benefit from their extra obstetrics and newborn care competences in settings where there are neither medical doctors nor obstetricians and gynecologists.