Every week, Charles walks eight hours with his donkey to collect 75 litres of water for Prisca, the midwife in Obien Health Center II, found in Kitgum-Matidi, a village in Northern Uganda’s Kitgum District.
Obien Health Center II serves a population of 3,800 people coming from 13 surrounding villages. And it is where Charles' first child, Innocent, was born in 2018.
Thanks to AVSI's interventions to improve maternal and newborn health, Prisca today attends to 10 more births every month, reducing the risk of infant mortality.
With the support of AVSI, Prisca who is passionate about her work and convinced that fathers too are a source of great support to women, organized several meetings to encourage male involvement during and after the nine months of pregnancy to create awareness on the advantages of giving birth at a health facility, and on how antenatal care helps to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and other pregnancy-related complications.
It was at one of these meetings that Charles and Prisca met and since then he has always accompanied his wife to antenatal check-ups. While at the clinic, Charles noticed the difficult hygienic conditions in which Prisca was operating: there was no water, and the midwife was forced to ask the pregnant mothers to carry with them at least two gallons of water each time they visited the health facility.
Innocent was born on a Thursday and since that day, every Thursday, Charles provides Obien Health Center with 17 gallons of water free of charge.
I volunteer for my community; I want to see mothers of Obien give birth to babies in a safe and clean environment. I am happy to help Prisca and to assist this facility.
Charles’ contribution has made the maternity ward more accessible and safer not only for his wife but for all the women of Obien, making him a hero in his community.
This is just one example of how male involvement can lead to positive effects on maternal health outcomes especially those related to the utilization of services, preparation for childbirth, and nutrition.
This is why AVSI under the Health Systems Strengthening project (Keeping Women and Children Alive) funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency in partnership with UNICEF and the Government of Uganda, has since 2018 organized more than 200 community dialogues annually to encourage fathers’ participation in Northern Uganda.
The health project aims to improve quality and access of care for mothers and children in Northern Uganda with a focus on quality services and increasing demand by the community for antenatal, deliveries, post-natal, infant and young child feeding, immunization, growth monitoring, deworming, nutrition, and prevention of HIV and AIDS.