Violet Boonabana, midwife
Violet Boonabana was raised by her aunt, a midwife, in Kampala. Growing up, Violet would admire the way her aunt cared for the women in their community. "She made me love and respect the profession," she says. "She showed me how rewarding it is to watch a mother leave the hospital with a healthy, happy baby."
Years later, Violet is a registered nurse and midwife herself, working on one of Kampala's busiest maternity wards at Mengo Hospital. Her role on the ward can vary from day to day. "Besides the deliveries, I will also do things like carrying out immunisations and delivering postnatal care and health education for new and expectant mothers," she says. "I also help the doctors with their ward rounds, and I spend some time completing reports and following up with medical bills."
Violet is among 500 nurses and midwives who have benefitted from Amref Health Africa's eLearning programme, funded by the UK government. Designed to deliver specialist additional training via the internet, the programme is helping nurses and midwives in Uganda develop new life-saving skills.
"The training has really built my confidence"
"One thing I have really taken from the training is the management of pre-eclampsia, a common condition during pregnancy," says Violet. "Before, I did not know how to manage this condition, and even when I tried to do first aid, the mothers still seemed to be in great pain. Sometimes we’d even lose them. However, the training has really built my confidence in this area, and it has made me so happy to see mothers recover and deliver their babies safely."
Right: Sister Violet on duty at Mengo Hospital (c) Esther Mbabazi
The benefits of flexible learning
For Violet, a busy working mum-of-two, traditional classroom-based training wasn’t an option – and would have meant taking time away from the already understaffed health system. With eLearning, she is able to fit her training around her own schedule: investing her professional development while providing better support for the mums and babies in her care.
"It saves time and money and gives me the chance to practise what I have learnt in real-time," she says.
In March 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, we quickly adapted the training course to include a module on infectious diseases. For a close-contact speciality like midwifery, understanding the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE), regular sanitisation and social distancing where possible was critical.
Images (c) Esther Mbabazi for Amref Health Africa, 2020
The eLearning programme was funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office through the UK Aid Match initiative. Amref Health Africa ran a UK Aid Match campaign, Health in Her Hands, from March to June 2019. All donations made to the campaign by the UK public were matched by the UK government.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the campaign raised a total of £367,723. Of the total donations, £161,441 was eligible for match-funding by the UK government. Without your help, Violet and her colleagues would not have access to the eLearning course, and would not be able to use their newly developed skills to continue to save the lives of women and babies in the region.