“Being a nurse is a dream come true,” says Anita. “As I grew up, I always hoped and had a dream of taking care of patients. I could see how these patients suffer and how they could come to the hospital totally sick. And at the end of the hospitalisation they are much better.”
Anita is 25 years old and is delighted to be working as a nurse in the Nakaseke Hospital special care baby unit (SCBU).
“I prayed to become a nurse so that I could put smiles on the faces of those who seem hopeless,” she says, looking around the SCBU with pride.
Just a few years ago, this unit did not exist. In 2018, we partnered with Nakaseke Hospital to develop a small special care baby unit (SCBU) designed for babies who are not critically ill but need more care than healthy newborns.
We did this to test our holistic model for establishing newborn units – called AdaraNewborn – which has been developed from more than two decades’ work with Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda. Through the AdaraNewborn programme, we are expanding our evidence-based, high-impact model of maternal and newborn care to reduce newborn deaths and stillbirths by 50% in 10 health facilities across Uganda.
In the Nakaseke SCBU, we have advised on the infrastructure, equipment, supplies and staffing necessary for a successful unit, and provided ongoing training and mentorship to staff.
It was here in the Nakaseke SCBU that Anita first met Sarah and her new baby, Jane. Sadly, Jane suffered from birth asphyxia, which occurs when a baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen before, during or just after birth. Staff also believed that Jane had a congenital anomaly that likely required surgery.
“When I called in the doctor to review the baby, he decided that the baby should be referred to Mulago Hospital,” Anita says. Mulago is the largest hospital in Uganda.
While a SCBU like Nakaseke may not be equipped to care for very sick newborns like Jane, it does have the processes in place to ensure a baby is stabilised and receives the care they need until referred to another facility.
Anita worked to stabilise Jane and called ahead to Mulago to let them know of the referral. Anita then accompanied Jane and Sarah to the hospital by ambulance, before handing them over to a nurse there. Anita told the nurse at Mulago that she was worried about baby Jane. So the nurse kindly gave Anita her phone number so she could check in.
A month later, Anita called the nurse from Mulago to find out how Jane was doing.
“They were so happy to receive my call and told me that the baby got better and they were out of hospital. I was happy to receive the good news that the baby was fine.”
We are excited to continue to work with Nakaseke by upgrading the SCBU to a larger, 14-bed neonatal unit that can offer higher levels of care. We will also provide ongoing staff training and mentorship.