Ultrasound Saves a Teacher's Life

Ultrasound Saves a Teacher's Life

Norah Nakato (right) receiving care from Fausta Nalukwago, midwife at Mpigi Health Center IV in Uganda. {Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

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.

At the clinic, Norah was given an antibiotic and a pain killer to relieve abdominal pain. Norah left the clinic excited about her pregnancy. But, two weeks later, the pain persisted and Norah began bleeding. Her mother advised her to go to Mpigi Health Center IV for an ultrasound.

At the health center, Norah saw a problem on the ultrasound screen. “The doctor showed me what was in my uterus and there was no baby," Norah said. "It was swollen with liquid and unclear substances. He said the substance had to be removed. I was very scared."

After counseling from the doctor, Norah was admitted and given medication to induce labor. When the contractions began, she was taken into surgery.

The doctor advised her to wait at least one and a half years before conceiving another child to allow time for her uterus to heal and the abnormal hormone levels to normalize.

USAID-funded STRIDES for Family Health, led by MSH, awarded a performance-based contract to Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI). Through this funding, seven health centers in Mpigi district received a solar-powered, portable ultrasound machine.

The machines can be taken into the community where these services can be life saving -- and where a great need for these services exists. Every pregnant woman attending antenatal care at any of the seven health centers will be entitled to two free scans, and women with suspected complications will be referred to the hospital.

Norah said she is feeling better -- and that the ultrasound scan saved her life.

Tadeo Atuhura is Communications Specialist for STRIDES for Family Health (STRIDES) in Uganda. Edith Nantongo and Diana Nanono -- STRIDES staff from Communication Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU) -- collaborated on this post.