A game changer in midwifery

Blog 1 Feb 2021
Enid Mwebasa

I am extremely grateful and feel deeply honoured to be recognized as an individual worthy of such an important Lifetime Achievement Award from LAMRN and the NIHR Group on Stillbirth Prevention and Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

I am proud of my calling as Nurse-Midwife, a Nurse Researcher and a Reproductive Health Specialist and still hold passion about my midwifery services. My nursing career started in 1977 after obtaining a Diploma in Nursing from Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery (Uganda).

During my career, I was privileged to work at the level of Commissioner Nursing (Government Chief Nurse) at the Ministry of Health where I was able to carry out advocacy, capacity building, taking part in development of policy guidelines and making a positive impact on schemes of service for improved nursing and midwifery service delivery.  As a Reproductive Health Specialist, coupled with midwifery experience, I have effectively contributed to building a strong base for evidence-based health interventions in public health programs, especially in maternal, adolescent and child health, and including most at risk populations. Based on my expertise, I was able to work with Jhpiego Uganda Country office for 5 years as a Programme Advisor: my contributions included the Scale-Up of a new training innovation - Low-dose, High-frequency (LDHF) training approach to in-service training for health care workers in Uganda of which we developed midwives’ capacities for the provision of quality health services.

What inspired me to become a nurse?

My love for nursing started during my early childhood. I was the first born in my family out of twelve siblings. As such, I grew up literally looking after my brothers and sisters and whenever they would fall sick my mother referred to me as her young nurse and this was a great inspiration and an encouragement to become a nurse one day. Despite my upbringing in a rural setting, nothing deterred me from achieving my dream. When the golden training opportunity arrived in my life, I indeed took up nursing training, and after its completion, I worked at various nursing stations. Although this was good work, I felt I needed a more rewarding and challenging responsibility, which came by offering services in maternal and child health.

My experience as a midwife

I took the biggest decision of my life by going back to Mulago School of Nursing & Midwifery to study midwifery. As a young mother, with young children and a husband to support I knew it was not going to be easy. However, with lots of hard work and determination in 1989, I managed to excel and obtained a Diploma in Midwifery. I was then posted to work in a Grade (A) Labour ward at Mulago National Referral Hospital, which marked the beginning of my successful journey in Midwifery as a career. Through close working relationship, honest partnership, and collaboration with national and international midwives’ network, I quickly gained all-round experience in this field. I owe recognition and respect to this team that have greatly contributed a lot towards my excellence.

The next step on my career growth was to enrol for both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s program thereafter. Even though going for higher education encompassed several challenges, each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today; a thorough professional who knows exactly what she wants; someone who sets her eyes on a goal and does not lose sight of it, unless it is achieved. Winning this award, therefore, would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my mentors and my colleagues (both national and international) for whom I have the deepest respect, and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself and perform better at each stage.

Highlights of my successful journey as AMRN/LAMRN Ugandan Focal Lead Person

The Africa Midwives Research Network (AMRN) was initiated in 1993 and championed by a visionary midwifery leader, Dr Helen Lugina. AMRN’s main objective was to develop a thriving, collaborative, sustainable, midwifery research network with the capacity and skills to strengthen evidence-based practice, thus improving care for women and babies. I was greatly privileged to have been nominated by my Head of department (Prof F. Mirembe) to participate in the initial AMRN activities. This rare opportunity aided me to take the leadership mantle of AMRN in Uganda. To date, I attribute all my achievements to this great Network!

Through hard work and by building a strong partnership the network was able to secure funding from THET for several years to improve and increase midwifery led research generated in the region and to strengthen evidence-based midwifery practice. The successful completion of an initial grant led to additional resources. These enabled LAMRN Uganda to mentor our colleagues from Tanzania to carry out research and audit independently, in own facilities. More recently we have been mentored by UK colleagues, supported by NIHR funds, to conduct specific research in stillbirth to understand the causes, change practice and provide better care to affected families.

I am proud to have been able to contribute to the impact of AMRN/LAMRN in the region and in my country. This would have not been possible without persistent teamwork of the wonderful Uganda team, who has always shown so much passion and dedication to improve care for women and newborn.

In conclusion, I must say, that the past 43 years of my nursing and midwifery profession and as a LAMRN focal lead for Uganda, have allowed me to help women arrive at their destinations, in good health and with their babies in their arms and be a game changer to most of the midwives in this region.

At this juncture, I would like to dedicate this Lifetime Achievement Award, to Professor Tina Lavender and her team at University of Manchester / Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I thank them for the mentoring in leadership and for recognising me and my dedicated service during these years. Mentorship in incorporating ethical considerations into the collaborative Networking approach has helped create a healthy and productive work environment at all levels.

Long Live LAMRN NETWORK…Long Live LAMRN Uganda

Mrs Enid R. Mwebaza
Twitter: @mwebazaenid