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Community Health Assistants and Coordinators- CHAC

We train a team of community health workers and task them with emergencies, to rescue mothers in remote or emergencies situations

Photo of Obua Godfrey
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The war in the northern Uganda and South Sudan share similar stories about mothers delivering along the way to safety or in the bushes as they make their way to safer areas.

A few story about labour on the way:Rose Akongo, 26, was in labour by the time she arrived at the border post. Uganda/Evelyn MatsamuraKiapi

LAMWO, Uganda – Nine mothers stood in a single-file line, cuddling their newborn babies, in a refugee reception centre in northern Uganda. Visibly exhausted and anxious, each had a story to tell about being heavily pregnant, and nearing their expected delivery dates, when they were forced to flee the armed conflict raging in Pajok, a town in South Sudan.

Of the nine women – all displaced earlier this month – two had delivered en route to safety, and one had given birth in a tent at the reception centre. The others delivered at the nearby Ngoromoro Health Centre II, “We walked with difficulty, but we could not stay behind because we feared we would be killed by the guns,” said 26-year-old Rose Akongo, who trekked for two days through the bush with her 3-year-old daughter, Brenda, on her back. To this end, these trained CHAC live and move with the people together and can help to bridge the gaps between the health workers and communtiy in such situations.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

The most vital point to learn here is the benefit of training some community members in first aids, and nursing expectant mothers to take care of their own selves in case of emergencies situations.

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

The idea relates to cases and personas, in that we all have different experiences and stories to tell and they all relate to mothers experiences of new life and from the different parts of the world and diverse situations.

Tell us about yourself:

We work with communities in general in: health, child and maternal care, malnutrition, counseling and testing for HIV/AIDs, and more. Education- we lobby for children scholarships, brain Development.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Thank you Obua Godfrey for sharing these insights on the challenge. Does your organization have a website you can provide to give more context to the information?

Can you elaborate on some existing resources for pregnant mothers through your organization?

Looking forward to learning more.

Photo of Obua Godfrey

Dear Lauren,
Thank you too for your comments and interest in learning more about our orgainsation.
At the moment we do not have a website on this programme yet, due to effects of the prolonged conflicts in the region, and we have been operating on very limited funding, which are mandatory to the local funding donors. In the meantime, we are working on it and soon we will open a website which will accommodate all our current programmes.
Concerning existing resources for pregnant mothers: due to limited funding, as I said earlier, at the moment we have mother kits, which we distribute to pregnant mothers and trained community health assistants and coordinators freely, besides training on various issues which matter to them, like HIV/Aids, counseling and guidance, personal hygiene,first aids, self-help, and knowledge of how and where to get help when in need.
We are looking forward to giving hands on bedding assistance in health centres, De-worming and others, given enough funding in the near future.
Remember, northern Uganda and South Sudan, experienced similar situations of prolonged conflicts, such that infrastructures are still seriously lacking, and mothers are still delivering at the verandahs, or on the bear floors, in health centres due to over congestion. Let alone, some are the mercy of traditional birth attendants, due to remoteness and long distance from health centres.
To this end, we see that selecting and training some members among the community to take care of their own health matters are vital to help bridge this situations. After training, they will be equipped with smart phones/mobile phones to be used to call for ambulance, or other assistance during emergencies, provided with mother kits and other relevant equipment and materials to help in the same situations.
We shall be sharing more in due course.
Thanks again for your time.

Godfrey Obua.

Photo of Obua Godfrey

Hi Lauren Ito,
Thank you for your question.
Please have an additional notes on the same story.
Thousands forced to flee
Deadly clashes have normally forced well over tens of thousands to flee to safer areas, both in Northern Uganda and South Sudan.
When the situations get worse, the authority in many cases restrict movements of people, as it did happened in northern Uganda between the years, 1990s’ and early 2000. All services were then cut off, only vehicles in convoys, under heavy military escorts were allowed to reach certain areas, but all remote villages were a no mans’ land. So all pregnant mothers in such areas, by then were left in the dilemma, as health workers/civil servants also feared for their dear lives.
To rescue the situation then, we considered self-help initiatives, empowering the communities themselves, by training rescuers from among the community themselves, as they are part of the community they serve; because, just as in many humanitarian emergencies, pregnant women and new mothers faced a loss of health-care access, threatening their health and lives.
Where and how we work:
We still have limited funding, which does not meet all our goals and objectives.
We work with partners, and our trained community health assistants and coordinators, to provide relevant health services including life-saving reproductive health services, such as supporting the placement of midwives in health centres to provide antenatal care, safe delivery services and postpartum care and coordination to other health officials during emergencies. We are also considering providing family planning services in the near future, with additional funding, but we are still supplying reproductive health kits and delivery kits, which contain life-saving medicines and supplies.
With additional funding, we shall be in position to expand youth clubs that spread awareness of human rights, health, and how to avoid unintended pregnancy and HIV. And we have already started to create safe spaces for women and girls, where they can receive protection, care, and information on reproductive health and human rights.
All of the mothers and babies, refugees or displaced people we visit, are examined to ensure that they have no pregnancy-related complications or concerns related to exhaustion. Those requiring further attention are referred to nearby Health Centres IV.
Sharing few insights about new life in relation to armed conflicts in Northern Uganda and South Sudan.
We share many things in common, culture and languages, both in northern Uganda and South Sudan, even in naming a child. When you meet a child with names like:
Alweny (girl child) or Olweny (boy child)-born when people were fighting, or mother was in hiding, or on the run for safety, when fighting broke out.
Alum (girl child) or Olum (boy child) - born in the bush or grass.
Ayo (girl child) or Oyo (boy child)-born by the road side/ along the way, etc.
Aciro (girl child) or Ocira (boy child)-I have suffered, mother recalling situations she underwent when she was pregnant.
Akot (girl child) or Okot (boy child)-born when it was raining or in the rain without shelter. And many others depending on the situations.
But in other situations, names like: Anyero/Lanyero (girl child), or Odoko nyero (boy child)- meaning it has become a joy, or someone who used to look down on that mother, at last has now become happy with her.
Thank you once more,
Please have a great day.
Godfrey Obua.