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Our Uganda health programme


VSO Ireland launched a maternal and neonatal health programme in Karamoja, Uganda on November 30th, thanks to funding from Irish Aid. This programme focuses on promoting and extending health services to pregnant adolescent girls, who are particularly at risk when giving birth, and their babies. Irish volunteers will work side by side with Ugandan volunteers and local partners to increase local knowledge of disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment to save more mothers’ and babies’ lives in the area.

The basis for the programme

VSO Ireland's new health programme will help Ugandan mums like Delish Ayoo and Angel gain access to improved health services.

VSO Ireland has extensive experience in maternal and neonatal health programming, one of our core programme areas. VSO Ireland’s previous Irish Aid funded programme in Ethiopia was very successful and greatly influenced the design of this new programme in Karamoja. In some hospitals, a massive 40% reduction in the neonatal mortality rate was reported thanks to the implementation of Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Another VSO maternal and neonatal health programme in Gulu, Uganda had a similarly positive impact with local staff demonstrating increased knowledge of vital techniques, such as resuscitation, and saving more babies lives as a result.

VSO Ireland also has much experience working in Karamoja. Our Irish Aid funded inclusive education programme, which ran from 2013 to 2016, was very successful and resulted in higher rates of literacy and numeracy among primary school children. Inspired by the success of the NICUs in Ethiopia, VSO Uganda had opened a NICU in Moroto, Karamoja. The new health programme will build on previous learning and work towards providing these young mothers with improved health services, and increasing general awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues among adolescents.

What the programme aims to do

VSO Ireland’s health programme has several aims:

  • To improve access to and increase uptake of high-quality maternal, neonatal, sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young mothers in the Moroto and Napak districts.
  • To empower girls and women to make more informed decisions about their own health and reduce incidences of preventable diseases.
  • To increase capacity of health facility staff to provide non-judgmental adolescent and youth services through mentoring by volunteers.

The volunteers we need

Midwife Sandra Adong worked alongside Dr Aisling Walsh in Gulu, Uganda.

On this programme, Irish volunteers will work side by side with Ugandan volunteers, including nutritionists and social workers, to upskill local health workers. They will include:

  • Nurse and Midwife Mentors: These volunteers will support the roll-out of the national Nursing and Midwifery Curriculum, mentoring local nurses and midwives in the delivery of emergency obstetric and neonatal care.
  • Nurses/Midwives (with sexual and reproductive health experience): These volunteers will train local health workers to deliver appropriate and effective sexual and reproductive health services, as well as data collection, reporting and analysis.
  • Neonatal Nurses: These volunteers will provide training in essential newborn care and implement community support systems, such as antenatal or emergency plans.
  • Health Researchers: These volunteers will assess the progress and impact of the programme, and make recommendations based on these insights.

All volunteers get a comprehensive support package, including flights, accommodation, medical insurance, training and a monthly allowance. They will also receive monthly R&R (rest and relaxation) trips to Soroti or Kampala due to the rural nature of these placements. Applications from both working and retired health professionals are welcomed.

Find out about the benefits of volunteering as nurse or midwife with VSO Ireland here