In July 2019, Sabina was 25 years old when she gave birth to her twins at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital in Karamoja, Uganda. Her babies were healthy and Sabina breastfed them normally until, after a week, they both started to cry all day and night and to refuse to eat. As a consequence, Sabina’s breast milk reduced drastically. She immediately sought for help from Lolem Anna, a Village Health Team (VHT) member in her community. The VHTs are groups of community members that are meant to serve as the primary health contact at the village level. The VHTs members should be capable of relaying basic health information to their own community, delivering awareness-raising messages and they are trained particularly to identify, refer and follow-up people in need of healthcare.
Lolem took care of Sabina throughout her pregnancy, being herself already a mom; that is why she was the first person Sabina looked for. Although traditional midwives still play a significant role in the communities, Lolem encouraged Sabina to take antenatal care visits and to have a safe and assisted delivery in the health facility. Then, Lolem decided to accompany Sabina to Acherer HC III for her babies’ check-up. They were diagnosed with malaria and they still could not be breastfed. Fortunately, at the same health center, Sabina had the opportunity to participate to health education sessions given by health workers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and particularly on attachment and baby positioning since she used to feed her babies from only one breast. Besides these sensitization activities, Lolem followed-up Sabina’s pregnancy through periodic home visits, three times a day for one week. During her daily visits, Lolem continued to help Sabina with her twins, in particular showing her how to breastfeed properly and encouraging her to eat a balanced diet in order to produce enough breast milk for her babies.
«I am extremely grateful to Lolem and the whole VHTs for the continued support and monitoring – said Sabina -.It has been essential for me and my babies». Thanks to the acquired awareness, Sabina realized that the babies were finally breastfeeding properly and she had enough milk to take care of them. Similarly, Lolem was very happy for having stand by Sabina and her babies, and she was really satisfied for the positive impact of her support on another mom’s life. «I would like to thank the team of Doctors with Africa CUAMM for its mentorship which gave me the opportunity to help other mothers in my community – Lolem said -. I feel much more empowered and I have gained a lot of knowledge from CUAMM’s trainings, particularly on taking care of lactating mothers, maternal nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding. We are currently learning many things about complementary feeding. I wish to continue improving my competences and skills in order to improve the lives of other moms like me».
Since July 2018, the three-year project “Nourishing with food and knowledge the communities of Moroto and Napak” has been ongoing. It is financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, implemented by Africa Mission – Cooperation and Development and Doctors with Africa Cuamm, in partnership with Università Cattolica di Piacenza, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Meyer and Informatici senza Frontiere. Ugandan partners involved are Choose Life Home Base Care and Moroto and Napak districts’ authorities.