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Bwindi's Babies
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Bwindi's Babies
Access to proper medical care can be a matter of life and death for pregnant women in rural Uganda and their babies. Elizabeth, a midwife at Bwindi Community Hospital, confronts the challenges facing pregnant women while preparing for the birth of her own child.

CAUTION: This video contains graphic medical scenes.
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Produced by Marie Stopes International.

Find out more about Make Women Matter.

Find out more about the Bwindi Community Hospital.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Bwindi's Babies
VOICEOVER
Bwindi, on the Uganda/Rwanda border, is a small and remote rural community.
ELIZABETH NABADDA [Senior Midwife]
Bwindi is a far place. It's really a far place, and of course transport is poor. Our roads are not so good, and then, hospitals are quite far apart. I mean the next hospital is about three to four hours' drive.
VOICEOVER
For millions of poor women living in developing countries like Uganda, delays in accessing medical care can be life threatening for them and their babies.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
We would get mothers who had been really delayed, mothers who would come with lots of problems. Obstructed labor, mothers would come with dead babies inside because they were really delayed. It's really frustrating seeing a baby dying, and it's so bad if the mother dies during the process.
VOICEOVER
As a nurse, Elizabeth has delivered hundreds of babies. But it doesn't stop her worrying now she is pregnant herself.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
I will be having a baby in about maybe six, seven weeks from now. And I'm excited; I'm just waiting for that time to come. Of course there is that kind of tension and wondering what may happen because you know, anything can happen during labor. But I trust everything in God and I think the doctors will do their best to me.
VOICEOVER
For the past year, women in the Bwindi area have been using a voucher scheme. For the price of a loaf of bread, a woman can buy a voucher, which covers the otherwise high cost of ante- and post-natal care for her and her baby.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
The rich can afford to go to any hospital. The poor may not even afford to come to Bwindi hospital. So it means everyone, even the poorest of the poor, can access the services.
VOICEOVER
It's seven o'clock in the evening and an emergency case arrives from a hospital two hours' drive away. Melanie has been referred with complications.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
She has leaking membranes...
VOICEOVER
She has a voucher, so will be treated for free whatever happens next.
JULIUS NKALUBO [Surgeon]
Our patient is 36 weeks pregnant and she has been referred in because she has leaking membranes. And this has been happening for the past three days. We found that, in addition to the leaking membranes, she has a transverse lie, and we could not get the heartbeat. If this baby is in any way compressing against the cord it will die in utero. And since it's transverse, we'll have to do a C-section to deliver the baby who is already dead. You have the head on one side of the ribs and the buttocks on the other side of the ribs, so actually when you look at labor, how it will go on, the mother's uterus fights to expel the baby. The strong part, which is the head, finds an area where it can pass, so it can rupture the uterus to go out.
VOICE
And what happens to the mum then?
JULIUS NKALUBO
Disaster. If she doesn't get emergency cesarean, she'll bleed and she will die.
VOICEOVER
Within minutes, Julius and his team start operating, hoping it won't be too late to save Melanie and her baby.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
So this is the baby that was born yesterday. The baby's name is Shabomwe. How many kilos is she?
MUEZZIN MERETH [Nurse]
He is 2.0.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
It's not bad. And now he's suckling, yeah?
MUEZZIN MERETH
Yes now he's suckling very well.
VOICEOVER
Baby Shabomwe is lucky. His mother made it to the hospital in time. But not every mother does. In the next cot, baby Rosetti has a different story.
MUEZZIN MERETH
This one we received two weeks back. And it was from maternity. Unfortunately we lost the mother. We were told it was secondary postpartum hemorrhage. What we know, they are twins. Then they delivered one, and then the mother was referred in, by the time they delivered this one I think it was too late. The mother bled severely. So that was actually the cause of death according to the report we got from maternity.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
Maternal health is a complex thing. It ranges from attitude change to real activity. We are really fighting hard and it is quite something that is not easy to achieve.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
How are you doing?
MELANIE
I'm OK.
ELIZABETH NABADDA
To save mothers is to save the future.
TITLE
A few weeks after filming, Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy. Both mother and son are doing well.