African women’s reproductive health

January and February were emotionally hard months. I left Uganda and headed back to UK.

The day I arrived I got a phone call from home telling me that my cousin Doreen was seriously ill in a Ugandan hospital and the prognosis was not good and the next call I got was to tell me that Doreen was dead.


Doreen (R.I.P) had miscarried her baby and having been discharged from hospital she became very ill and had to return for a check up. She had an infection that had not been picked up and by the time they did it was too late. There was very little they could do  for her.

A few weeks later just as I was getting used to that news  I got a call from a friend here in the UK, she had had her baby prematurely  by C section as the Doctors had realized that if she carried the baby full term it would be  detrimental to her health, her baby was OK.  The baby a girl suffered some complications and died 12 days later.

2 weeks into February and I get a phone call from my sister in London,  my niece had been taken into hospital. She was about to miscarry her babies and 48 hours later she did. she was expecting twins. The last one had to be taken out because not doing so would compromise her health as she had lost a lot of blood and perhaps cause complications for her in future.

As you can see these were difficult months to get through and you are probably wondering WHY I am sharing these rather personal experiences with you-

It is all about the disparity in services  when it comes  to  AFRICAN WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

All of the women mentioned here are Ugandan two live in the UK but Doreen lived in Uganda.  I have since asked myself the question what would have happened if the other two women lived in Uganda too?

On Tuesday 8 March 2011 we celebrated 100 years of International Women’s Day I used the  opportunity to both celebrate the lives of women that are behind lovely products here at Ethnic Supplies but also to reflect on the how things have  changed for women in Uganda/Africa and I concluded that there is still a lot of work to do and I think that the personal story I started this post with demonstrates that in as far getting reproductive health for African women right is concerned.

Goal Number 5 of the  the Millennium Development Goals is all about Reproductive health/maternal health. As I look back on the past two months I have to wonder how many more Doreens will lose their lives before things improve for women in Africa so that they can have access to the care and expertise that the other other two women living in the UK had.  Yes I understand that it took Britain 100 years or so to get Maternal health right for women here but the disparity in care for women in Africa lives me with a sense of hopelessness.

With nurses and mid-wives leaving the continent for a better life/working conditions elsewhere what hope is there for real development of services to improve reproductive health for African women?

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