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I rushed my newborn to hospital on the back of a motorbike

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda has only four on-staff senior doctors. In-training junior doctors or nurses carry out the majority of health work. VSO has been working with the hospital to open up a new, well-equipped neonatal care unit to provide newborns with appropriate care. This unit now caters for 60 babies a month.

19 year old Scovia Akello tells the story of her firstborn - currently in the unit.

Scovia and son in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital NICU © Ginny Lattul

Scovia and son in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital

Going in to Labour

“Two weeks ago, I went into labour whilst I was at home. I thought it was just a stomachache, but as the day continued I realised that the baby was coming.

“I went to the health centre where I had my antenatal care. They were able to do the delivery.  However, when my baby was born he should have cried. But he didn’t cry properly.”

Rushing to the hospital

“The health workers told me that my baby wasn’t healthy and he wasn’t displaying normal behaviour. They referred me to the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital straight away. I didn’t imagine that things would go that way.

“There was no transport so I had to hire a boda boda [motorbike taxi] straight after I gave birth. It was about eight kilometres away.

“When I got here, the medical people helped me very fast. They directed me straight to this unit where the immediately started resuscitation. They checked the baby’s temperature and breathing.”

Boda boda in Uganda © Ben Langdon

Boda boda (motorbike taxi) in Uganda

Getting better

"I’ve been sleeping here next to my child for the last two weeks. He is continuously progressing but I’m not sure when we will go home.

"If this unit wasn’t here, I might have had to bury my child. Whilst they knew the problem, the health centre doesn’t have the machines to help my baby.

"I’m so excited to think about my child’s future, and I’m happy that he’s well."

Northern Uganda has long struggled with development after years of civil war. Healthcare particularly has suffered, as many doctors fled the fighting.  Since then, the region has been trying to rebuild. We're working to provide skills and equipment to help save young lives. You can support our work by donating today