Three small and frail premature babies weighing 1.2kg, 1kg and 1.1kg are rushed to the newly established newborn care unit at Kagadi Hospital. The triplets are placed in an incubator, and tubes are inserted in their nostrils to help them breathe.

On the 22nd of July 2015, Bikara (32 years) felt labour pains when she was seven months pregnant. “I still had two months to go before my due date of delivery. I quickly sensed that something was wrong,” says Bikara, a resident of Kasunga village in Kibaale district.

“I was rushed to Mugarama Health Centre III by my husband, Mutebi Samuel. Since I was in labour before term, the nurses quickly referred me to Kagadi Hospital. I arrived at Kagadi Hospital at 12:30 p.m., and in the wee hours of the morning at around 5:00 a.m., I delivered three babies with the help of Sr. Rehema Kyomuhangi,” Bikara says.

“During my one-month stay at the hospital, the health workers regularly monitored the babies’ condition, and made sure that they were improving steadily” says Bikara. At different times, I was given the opportunity to feed them and hold them on my chest (Kangaroo Mother Care).

Now aged four months, the triplets Mary, Lydia and Jennifer are growing steadily, and they are being taken for regular check-ups by their parents.

Pauline Namukisa, a midwife at Kagadi Hospital, the only district hospital in Kibaale, commends the IDI Project for establishing the newborn unit. She says that the hospital handles an average of 276 deliveries per month, and before the neonatal unit was established, it was very difficult to manage babies with birth complications.
She adds that out of every 20 babies born with complications, only three would survive, but all this has changed.

“We did not have any specialized unit to take care of the newborns, but now we have one,” says Sr. Namukisa.

“Many of our midwives were also trained in Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Plus (a program that teaches neonatal resuscitation techniques in resource-limited areas) to enable us save as many babies as possible,” says Sr. Namukisa.

On the 14th of June 2015, a neonatal care unit was opened at Kagadi Hospital by IDI in partnership with the Ministry of Health and with support from a US-based funder.

The newborn care project aims to increase the coverage of new born services from 53% to 75% over a period of three years, starting 1st April 2014. The neonatal project is also renovating neonatal corners at Kakumiro, Kakindo and Kibaale Health Centre IVs, and will be commissioning them during 2016.