The Duchess of Cambridge has marked the end of a global campaign to raise the profile of nursing by praising the “amazing work” of a Ugandan midwife who has dedicated her life to supporting mothers.
Kate heard about the harrowing experiences of young women and girls supported by community midwife Harriet Nayiga when she interviewed the health worker for Nursing Times magazine.
The midwife is the founder of Milcot (Midwife-led Community Transformation) which works to help mothers in disadvantaged communities receive medical care before complications arise.
The two women chatted via video link in March and the conversation has been published on the International Day of the Midwife – May 5. The interview also marks the completion of Nursing Now, a three-year global campaign to raise the status and profile of nursing.
Kate told Ms Nayiga: “Hopefully one day I can come and see your amazing work first-hand. It’s so fantastic that organisations like Milcot are on a global stage, being able to share their best practice.
“You should feel hugely proud of all the hard work and effort that goes into it. I can see your passion and dedication.”
The midwife said about her community based work: “For these marginalised populations, to have someone to talk to, to have someone in their lives who understands what they’re going through, and who can help – that is what they need.
“As a midwife I need to be close, so that they speak to me, so that I listen to their concerns.”
Describing her journey to the duchess, the midwife said five years ago she was working for an organisation helping pregnant teenagers in crisis.
“I would hug a young girl who is facing challenges – she’s crying, she was raped, she’s 10 years old. She’s seeing me as the mother, the sister, as everything – so I was caught up in the pain,” she said.
Training the teenagers in economic resilience prompted her to return to education and, during a hospital placement, the midwife described how the experiences of one teenager, who suffered complications during her pregnancy, lost her baby and had to undergo a hysterectomy, prompted her to start her organisation.
She added: “That sent me to the community to help young girls like this and provide the information they need to prevent this.”
Kate launched the Nursing Now campaign in February 2018 at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, and acted as its royal patron.
With support from the UK’s Burdett Trust for Nursing, the midwife took part in Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge leadership programme to provide training and development opportunities for a cohort of her fellow midwives, nurses and other health professionals.
Ms Nayiga said: “Seeing as the maternal mortality rate is so high at 375 deaths per 100,000 live births, with teenage pregnancy at 25% and adults saying they receive unsatisfactory care, we felt that it was very important to try and train nurses and midwives at such facilities in preventative initiatives rather than focusing on response initiatives in the hospital.”
She added: “We want to raise the profile of nurses in our community but also the country at large, so we are training them in adult-health-friendly services, we have trained them on how to handle key populations, we are training them in counselling and we want them to see that they place themselves as community champions.”