Nakaseke Hospital newborn unit

Welcome to the new Nakaseke Hospital newborn unit

“My hope is to save more babies and save more mothers,” says Daniel Kabugo, Adara’s Uganda Country Director. “But I also want to see that this programme can be adopted by the Uganda Ministry of Health as a model that can really be applied in Uganda and other low-resource settings.”

It’s early morning in rural Uganda and already Daniel is talking important business: saving lives. In this instance, he is talking about the recent opening event of the new and upgraded newborn unit at Nakaseke Hospital in Central Uganda.

But if you ask Daniel, he will tell you that this launch represents so much more than just the opening of a building. Instead, it’s a sign of something much bigger: that Adara’s plans to scale their newborn model of care – AdaraNewborn – is working.

“When Adara first started working with Nakaseke in 2017, nothing was in place for newborn care,” Daniel says. “But the hospital was able to identify one small, single room to establish a unit for babies who are not critically ill but need more care than healthy newborns.”

And so began a partnership that would have a deep, ongoing impact and would save many lives.

The new Nakaseke Hospital newborn unit

The new Nakaseke Hospital newborn unit

Together, Adara and Nakaseke opened the hospital’s first newborn unit. Adara’s Newborn National Trainer, Sister Christine Otai, also introduced a training programme and began providing regular bedside mentoring to staff.

In establishing the newborn unit, Adara drew on their 23 years’ experience working in newborn care with nearby Kiwoko Hospital. Through this partnership, Adara and Kiwoko have developed a newborn unit that is now recognised as a centre of excellence in newborn care.

The results of the expansion of this model to Nakaseke have been remarkable.

“To start with at Nakaseke, we had just one radiant warmer and one nurse, then two, then three. As we speak now, currently there are seven nurses but we are discussing getting more staff.”

Daniel Kabugo

Since the partnership began, Nakaseke has maintained average survival rates of 98%. Adara also implemented a quality improvement system in the newborn unit and has seen a 75% improvement in the quality-of-care score between April 2019 and May 2021. Adara will now continue to expand these systems into other departments, starting with maternity.

“Eventually, we were able to identify another huge building that was vacant, and we were able to renovate the room to a 14-bed newborn unit that can provide more advanced care. And that is the unit that we were very excited to launch last week.”

Thanks to Adara’s incredible equipment partners such as the DAK Foundation and FREO2, this new unit has been supplied with medical equipment and an innovative oxygen system to provide high quality care.

“Everything about this unit is on another level. More babies are going to come in and the quality of care that can be provided is much higher,” Daniel says.

As Adara begins to scale their AdaraNewborn model across Uganda, Nakaseke Hospital is serving as the second site.

“We are really looking at this as an opportunity of understanding how AdaraNewborn works in another facility,” Daniel says. “We are ready to implement all of the five arms of AdaraNewborn at Nakaseke. The idea is that after that, we will roll this out to other public health facilities in partnership with the Ministry of Health.”

The goal of AdaraNewborn is to reduce newborn deaths and stillbirths across Uganda by 50% in 10 health facilities over 10 years. Adara estimates they will reach almost half a million women and babies through this work, with hopes it will strengthen the Ugandan health system and support sustainable systems change that will continue to reduce maternal and newborn deaths into the future.

The five arms of AdaraNewborn

The launch of the unit was attended by key officials, including Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, and Chair of the National Newborn Steering Committee, Dr Margaret Nakakeeto.

“Our vision is big and I believe that we can’t do this all on our own,” Daniel says. “By working in partnership with others, we will be able to make this vision a reality. I cannot wait to see this work grow.”

Adara is seeking partners and funders for this important life-saving work. If you would like to know more or get involved, please contact our Senior Partnerships Manager, Jessica Millar on

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