It’s International Day of the Midwife, and we’re highlighting Sister Cornety Nakiganda, the incredible midwife leading our Hospital to Home (H2H) programme at Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda.
“I was born [to be] a midwife,” Sister Cornety reflects. “The most rewarding part of being a midwife is helping babies and their mothers to survive and thrive”.
Sister Cornety is a passionate midwife with more than 40 years’ experience in facility and community-based care. For decades, Cornety has provided quality care to mothers and babies in remote and resource-constrained settings who may be unable to make it to hospital. She has spent much of her career working with Kiwoko Hospital, both in the maternity ward and as the midwife leading their community based health care programme.
Sister Cornety’s journey as a midwife started young – she found her passion as a child.
“I first thought of being a midwife when I was young; there was neighbour’s daughter who was pregnant, but this girl came home without a baby, and I found out that the baby had died,” Cornety says.
“From then I knew that when I grew up, I would become a midwife to help mothers, so they don’t lose their babies”.
Cornety currently works as the Community Midwife in Adara’s Hospital to Home (H2H) programme. In this role, she leads the ‘home’ component of the programme, providing follow-up support to families after their babies are discharged from the Kiwoko Hospital newborn unit. She manages a team of 120 volunteer community health workers (CHWs) who provide in-home follow-up care to high-risk babies for up to a year after they leave hospital. Cornety supports this team through guidance, supportive supervision, and ongoing training. Her leadership is empowering, inspiring her team to provide the best care.
“We have well-trained CHWs, I think they are the best in all of Uganda. They are so knowledgeable in newborn health and maternal care,” she says.
Cornety is a trusted member of her community and she is committed to using her position to promote the health of mothers and children. With the help of midwives like Cornety, the H2H programme is changing the way care is delivered to vulnerable children and their families. She is very proud of the outcomes that the H2H programme has achieved.
“H2H has increased the survival of babies, and ensures that they not only survive, but that they also thrive,” Cornety says.
“Mothers know their CHWs are knowledgeable. They consult them if they have a problem, they know they can give them the information and help they need”.
Cornety is humble, but she knows the impact her life’s work – as well as that of many other midwives – has had on maternal and newborn health outcomes across the country. She has seen the positive changes since she first started as a midwife four decades ago.
“I have helped reduce the maternal mortality through education to the mothers discouraging home delivery. I have had an impact on increasing hospital deliveries,“ Cornety says.
“Mothers are now delivering with trained midwifes instead of by themselves at home. This is because of my effort to educate them in their community.”Cornety Nakiganda
“Through the H2H programme, I have also increased the number of mothers following up on high-risk infants, which has greatly helped them to survive and thrive”.
Cornety’s dedication to her work and community hasn’t gone unrecognised. Last year, Cornety was honoured as a finalist in the Midwife of the Year category at the Ugandan Heroes in Health Awards. In 2020, she was one of Women in Global Health’s 100 Outstanding Nurses and Midwives in 2020, and in 2019, Cornety was named as a Newborn Champion by the Ministry of Health for her dedication to vulnerable newborns and their families.
Cornety has saved thousands of lives and continues to impact thousands more through her leadership. Her work as a midwife, and inspiring leadership within the community, will have a lasting impact on the wider global health ecosystem for a long time to come.