Private sector advances goal of providing quality maternal healthcare to Ugandans
More than 53,000 mothers have delivered safely in small, private-sector facilities over the last four years since the launch of the MSD for Ugandan Mothers (MUM) project. Through the MUM project, providers work to ensure that pregnant women—particularly those in remote and low-income communities—have access to affordable, quality maternal health products and services through the ProFam network of privately-owned franchise clinics.
This comprehensive project also works beyond the clinic setting by helping women overcome common barriers to care, such as cost, transportation and limited supplies. The MUM project includes 142 health facilities in 42 districts in Uganda—covering more than one-third of the country—and access to quality care which has impacted an estimated 130,000 women.
Recognizing the opportunity to improve maternal health in Uganda, the MUM project worked with small midwife-owned facilities that are often closest and therefore, the first facilities that mothers reach when in labor. The Programme for Accessible health, Communication and Education (PACE), the lead implementing partner of the MUM project, worked with many of these facilities since 2008 through its social franchise network, ProFam. The ProFam franchise is a network of private sector healthcare providers that provide high quality health services at affordable prices under a common brand.
“Private sector providers, if trained and supported, will offer high quality maternity healthcare services to the mothers before, during and after delivery. This increases the chances of survival for the mother and the baby,” said Dr Frank Kaharuza, the Executive Director, Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Uganda (AOGU). AOGU facilitated the training and mentorship of health providers as part of the MUM project.
Fourteen PACE trained facilities in Southwestern Uganda are now part of the Ministry of Health’s Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher program (URHVP), enabling them to offer maternal health services at a subsidized cost to the mother. William Nyombi, the program manager for URHVP notes that, in general, social franchised facilities, like ProFam, were the first choice for private sector facilities offering voucher services due to the high quality clinical standards and competency of clinical workers and service providers to deliver quality reproductive health services.
”The investment in facility and provider quality that these facilities have been supported to do makes them ideal voucher service delivery partners,” explains Mr Nyombi.
Mr Zacch Akinyemi, the Executive Director of PACE, notes that it has been a privilege to reach so many mothers and provide them with the care they need while also contributing to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality in Uganda through the MUM project.
“We are very grateful to be able to expand the service portfolio to maternal health with the support we receive from MSD for Mothers. Through this support, we’re able to offer high quality training and mentoring to our providers as well as educate mothers about the importance of birth preparedness and delivering in a high quality facility close to their homes,” Mr Akinyemi said.
The MUM project is supported by funding from MSD, through MSD for Mothers, the company’s 10-year, $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman dies giving life. MSD for Mothers is an initiative of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.
PACE is a local, non-governmental organisation with leading health interventions in maternal health, reproductive health, access to clean water, malaria and child survival as well as HIV Care and Prevention.