Save the Mothers was created when Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, a Canadian obstetrician/gynecologist from McMaster University, was confronted with mothers in need in Uganda.
As a volunteer with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the Association of Obstetricians of Uganda, she discovered many of the causes of maternal death went far beyond medical barriers.
As a result, and in order to create awareness and lasting change, Dr. Chamberlain Froese harnessed the energy and commitment of Ugandan colleagues (Dr. Florence Mirembe, Dr. Pious Okong, and Dr. Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa) and founded Save the Mothers (STM).
In 2005, STM launched its first program, a Master’s of Public Health Leadership, at Uganda Christian University (UCU), near Uganda’s capital, Kampala. STM immediately became one of UCU’s most valued programs. It has received accolades from officials like Janet Museveni, Uganda’s First Lady, and enrolled several Ugandan Members of Parliament, high-ranking national journalists and other top professionals. Several years since its introduction at UCU, STM still routinely gets five applicants for every spot available.
STM is recognized as a groundbreaking program because of how it links leaders from various disciplines to form a network for lasting societal change. It is built on the truth that maternal mortality is not just a medical issue, but a societal problem. STM’s founders realized this early, that the need is to train not just health workers, but politicians, journalists, lawyers, educators, clergy, community activists and other leaders. Further, the need is to then have them join forces to create change in their own culture.
In classes of 25 and in a modular format, these working professionals learn why mothers in their country are dying, how they can make a difference through their spheres of influence, and how they can network with other societal leaders.
With the help of a Canadian donor and matching funds from UCU, in 2008 STM completed Mirembe Hall, the training and residential centre that houses the program. Today Mirembe Hall is among UCU’s hallmark buildings.
Since its beginning, more than 400 East African leaders have come through the program.
Most recently, Save the Mothers launched its Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, linking STM graduates to existing health facilities, thus ensuring higher standards of care for women and children, and accountability for health professionals.