For more than three years, TOMS Giving (TOMS), and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) have partnered to address critical health and social issues facing mothers and children in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Together, MSH and TOMS have helped nearly 1,000,000 moms and kids in Uganda and Lesotho stay healthy.
MSH spoke with Fabio Castaño, MD, MPH, global technical lead of family planning and reproductive health about MSH’s approach to family planning and what will define the future of family planning and global health. Below is part one of the conversation.
What is MSH’s approach to family planning and reproductive health?
Dr. Fabio Castaño.Fabio:
In the beginning of my medical career during the early 1990’s, I witnessed the devastating effects of HIV & AIDS. Nearly 60 percent of the hospital beds I attended were filled with AIDS patients, many of them my close friends and colleagues. At the time, little was known about the AIDS epidemic; no effective treatments were available; and as a physician, I watched helplessly as day after day those closest to me suffered until their death.
The May issue of the MSH Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe) features stories on gender equity, UHC, and family planning including: MSH President Jono Quick blogging on making UHC work for women;
empowering women and girls in Nigeria;
involving men in gender equity interventions in Honduras,
stories on family planning, MNCH, and strong women leaders from STRIDES for Family Health project in Uganda, and much more! Read newsletter now
For most of my life, women in Uganda---as in most countries---were treated as inferior to men. Girls were less likely to be educated than their brothers, and had little control over the direction of their lives. Many girls grew up being told how to act, eat, and talk; many women were regarded as little more than domestic caregivers. However, in 1986 the ruling government radically changed the dynamics of Ugandan women in global development and their participation in decision-making at all levels of government.
Sophia is a humble woman. She has been working as a nurse for 10 years, and is currently one of five nurses posted at Rwesande health center IV in the hills of western Uganda.
When I arrived I was impressed by the number of services the health center offers, and the general appreciation felt around the compound. Rwesande health center IV has a maternity ward to safely deliver babies; counseling areas for family planning, reproductive health, and HIV; a general ward, a surgery theater, and health education space.
Family planning counseling and services now available
The Kasese district in western Uganda is nestled between two national parks. Located hours from the capital city, Kampala, the region attracts tourists to view gorillas and mountain birds.During my recent trip to Uganda, I met with Dr. Yusuf Baseka, the district health officer of Kasese, who described the health challenges his district faces, and his hopes for the future.Although the national parks are beautiful and bring a much needed economic boost to the area, they also offer a challenge, Dr.
Mbambu is a midwife who works at Isole Health Center III in rural Western Uganda. When I had the opportunity to visit with her, she was the only health care provider at the center. Trained as a midwife nine years ago, her passion for her job pours out of her.
This was my first trip to Africa working with a development agency. While I had visited the African continent for personal trips previously, arriving in this context felt different. I was immediately aware of the challenges Uganda is facing. From the crumbling road infrastructure and high incidence of traffic accidents in Kampala, to the mobile phone networks that are pretty reliable while internet access is often spotty, to the prevalence of street children --- I can for the first time see what my local colleagues are up against.I felt a bit overwhelmed in the first few days.
Norah, a 21-year-old teacher at a private school in Nansana, Uganda, did not know she was pregnant. Pain in her lower abdomen prompted her to go for a consultation at a private clinic in Nansana, where a urine test revealed the pregnancy. “I was shocked because I had last had my period on the 15th of that month,” Norah said.