The ultrasound scan services changing lives in Busoga, Uganda
Ultrasound scans present us with the opportunity to detect abnormal fetal development or other problems with the placenta, uterus, or amniotic acid. Mothers that do not have access to ultrasound scan services during pregnancy are likely to face numerous challenges during childbirth because in an event where the fetus has a problem the issue will not be detected. Makerere University Center of Excellence for Maternal Newborn and Child Health with funding support from Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund is conducting the Ultra Sound Scan study with an aim of determining whether the introduction of clinical assessment checklist and/or limited obstetric ultrasound at labor triage can improve identification of six selected high-risk obstetric conditions prior to birth at Iganga General Hospital and three lower-level facilities in the Busoga Region, Uganda.
Since the inception of this study, mothers in Busoga have been encouraged to use the ultra sound scan because they are now more aware of its ‘pros’ erasing their ‘perceived cons’ of causing childhood cancers, still births, birth defects, cultural beliefs and interpretations among others. The preliminary results show that mothers acknowledge the importance of the ultrasound scan and they are more optimistic towards its usage.
Just like the rest of the world, the Ultrasound Scan study activities were affected by the outbreak of the lethal pandemic. In the beginning, there was total lockdown as one of the government directives limiting access to the ultrasound scan services. During our recent field visit, mothers narrated their experiences of not accessing these services expressing their worries and relief for the lockdown directives were lifted. In June 2020, ultrasound scan activities resumed in Kiyunga and Bukoova health services while observing the COVID 19 regulations and SOPs and one could feel their gratitude as they waited in long queues to access these services.
Moreover, the study is also supporting VHTs and mothers with newborns with care; follow up calls are being made to mothers with newborn babies to get outcome information, for quality improvement mothers being scanned for the second time are interviewed for areas of improvement but also capturing their perception and acceptability of the ultrasound scan, VHT community registers are being reviewed coupled with interviews to understand their experiences and also this will be presented in the project’s final report anticipated to be ready in October 2020.
Community leaders particularly those at the district appreciate the need for the ultrasound scan because a) the results based financing system requires a mother to have been scanned, b) midwives are deployed to work in the facilities and they have never used this scan so they acquire skills on job and c) mothers are now more aware of why they have to use the ultra sound scan improving on the identification of the six high risk obstetric conditions reducing on preventable deaths for mothers and babies hence saving lives in Busoga.
Written by Hilda Namakula