Rogers Mandu, 33, is a social scientist. A student in the Ugandan class of the Save the Mothers Master of Public Health Leadership program, he is in his second year of study.
Fortunate Kagumaho interviewed Rogers about why he joined the program, and how he hopes to use his education to help bring about change for mothers and newborns in his community.
FK: What motivated you to apply to the program?
RM: It was the persistent burden of mothers dying in Uganda; currently in Uganda, out of every 100,000 live births, 336 women still die. I want to contribute positively towards the achievement of the sustainable development goal of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by the year 2030.
FK: What do you most appreciate about the program?
RM: I like the leadership component embedded in the Masters of Public Health. I have been working in the Busoga region, in hospitals in the East Central region of Uganda. One of the most important areas of focus in our work is leadership and governance in maternal and newborn care. I also like the flexibility of the course. The timing of the face-to-face [in class] sessions allows working students to continue to work as they study.
FK: What would you like readers of our blog to know about the challenges faced by East Africans in achieving good maternal and child health?
RM: One of the challenges we face is the issue of governance and leadership in the health care facilities. Most hospital managers have not historically given priority to maternal care services in terms of resource allocation.
The government policy towards maternal health is still on paper, the reality on the ground is still wanting. This is as a result of the centralization of supply of essential drugs and other supplies. Drugs frequently go out of stock as do other consumables [sutures, bandages, etc.] whose supply follows a predetermined schedule. This leaves the hospitals with little to do other than asking the patients/mothers to buy most of the items, and yet the majority of women cannot afford such things.
The situation is made worse with human resource gaps of critical staff that are needed to save mothers. Anesthetic officers, medical officers and theatre nurses are among the most critical and yet these are lacking in most of the health facilities where emergency obstetric care services should be provided. This then translates into the additional burden to the higher level hospitals and results in overcrowding and poor quality of care.
FK: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you, your work, or your hopes for your MPHL education?
RM: Yes! I work with the Preterm Birth Initiative research study implemented by Makerere University’s school of public health, which supports six hospitals in East Central Uganda. My hope for the MPHL program is to acquire more knowledge on leadership and governance and its influence on service delivery within the health systems in Uganda. I also hope to contribute to policy influence through publications from my research findings.