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Mama kit: Every detail counts in fight for maternal health

Post by Shakilah Bint Shiekh

A mother in labour receives her mama kit

Improving maternal health and encouraging expectant women to deliver at a health facility is a priority for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Several interventions are being implemented to boost institutional delivery. In Ruhiira, Uganda, only 8% of pregnant women delivered in a facility when the project first started. This number has gone up to 89%. Still, the team wanted to know why this figure wasn’t higher.

So in 2008, a study on the obstacles to full utilization of antenatal care services was carried out. It revealed a number of factors that hindered pregnant women from delivering at health facilities. These included lack of baby wrappers, hygiene issues, attitude of health workers, lack of privacy in the delivery room, and delivery posture. Surprisingly enough, a number of women cited the lack of baby wrapper as the biggest challenge.

Health personnel preparing the kits

“To deliver at the health center, you needed to be ready to put up with the nurses harsh words. ‘Why do you have children if you can’t afford a cloth to wrap your baby?’ the midwives would tell us,” says Lovence Katusiime, a mother of three. This pushed the mothers away, and they resorted to delivering at home or with the help of traditional birth attendants.

Faced with this unexpected problem, the MVP introduced the mama kit package which is given free of charge to every pregnant mother who delivers at the project supported health facility.

Kits are ready for delivery to the health centers

A mama kit package contains a one meter piece of cotton cloth (baby wrapper), one laundry soap, a pair of gloves, a piece of cotton wool, small gauze, cord ligature, and a meter of polythene sheet which is used on the delivery table. In many health facilities country wide, baby wrappers are not provided to mothers. These essential items are not easily afforded by pregnant mothers in rural areas. They cost the project about USD 5 per unit. Since the introduction of mama kit by the MVP, not only have pregnant mothers had access to the most essential items but it has also led to great reduction in infections in new born babies. Previously, a mother would come with any cloth from home, most of the time an unwashed rag, to wrap the new born. By providing a clean wrapper and the polythene sheet which is for one use only, the mama kit has made a dramatic change in delivery procedures. ‘This has helped us prevent infection of the mother and the new born,” says Kyorasiime Pulkeria, a midwife at Kabuyanda health center.

The mama kits serve as a self selling incentive for institutional delivery. “With this wonder kit, mothers mobilize fellow mothers. The kits sell themselves,” says the health coordinator Dr. Martins Okongo.

Shakilah Bint Shiekh is a UNDP Communications Specialist. She is based in the Ruhiira Millennium Village, Uganda.

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earlla vickers
earlla vickers
12 years ago

I am travelling to Afric in the near future and would like to know how to purchase “mama kits” to take with me. Contact me at the above Email. thanks Earlla

11 years ago

if you want to support an organization doing work with birthing women, I can firsthand recommend two organizations linked below who are doing amazing work (I stayed at one and visited another)

7 years ago

iam aron from uganda….iam requesting for some counciling since my girl friend is near to give birth. where am i supposed to get the maama kit ??