Slum Aid Project partners with MOH to boost Antenatal Care Services

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Dr Emmanuel Ahimbisibwe (standing) training the health workers and village health teams at Kawaala Health Centre IV; Courtesy Photo

By Mary Asujo

Slum Aid Project (SAP) in partnership with Vitamin Angels has trained health workers and Village Health Teams on the upcoming multiple micronutrient supplement that is to be used in antenatal care.

While training the team at Kawaala Health Centre IV, Ministry of Health Public Health Nutritionist Dr Emmanuel Ahimbisibwe said that providing Multiple Micronutrient Supplement (MMS) during pregnancy can help meet the increased nutrient demands which often cannot be met through diet alone.

The training was conducted by officials from the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Slum Aid Project on 25th March 2021.

Dr Ahimbisibwe said that government is planning to introduce MMS supplements in antenatal care to enable expectant mothers give birth to healthy babies. WHO has recommended the use of MMS in antenatal care but Uganda has not yet introduced it in health facilities.

Micronutrients are vital to healthy development, disease prevention, and well-being.

MMSs reduces low birth weight babies, premature babies, and government in collaboration with SAP decided to train healthy workers and village health teams in a bid to enable pregnant mothers give birth to healthy babies.

According to Dr Ahimbisibwe, although only required in small amounts, micronutrients are not made by the body and must come from the diet or supplement.Multiple Micronutrient supplement and iron and folic acid (IFA) are similar in that they both reduce the rate of maternal anemia.

However, evidence shows that women who are undernourished, anemic or underweight during their pregnancy, experience additional improvements in birth outcomes beyond those provided by IFA, including reductions in maternal anemia, night blindness and other symptoms caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Others include low birth weight, small for gestational age, preterm infants mortality at 6 months and still births.

“For prevention purposes, it is not advisable for a pregnant woman to take both MMS and IFA at the same time. This may result in a higher iron intake, which may cause side effects such as constipation, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea” Dr Ahimbisibwe noted.

Side effects

When taken as directed, MMS supplements are not expected to cause serious side effects. These side effects are often temporary and will go away as the bodies adjust to the medication. Upset stomach (ie nausea, headaches and unpleasant taste in their mouth.

Flavia Kisakye, a Village Health Team member said that the training was helpful as she now knows which children categories are supposed to get red and blue tabs because some health workers may not know and she will help to guide.

The Senior Nursing Officer of Kawaala Health Centre IV, Topher Nambuya, said that this training will go a long way to equip her staff since they are nearly approaching child days.

“They will know which child gets what dosage and I know they have really benefited from it because they have got information in-depth and they will do a good job,” added Nambuya.

SAP’s Program’s Officer, Douglas Kasirye said that Slum Aid Project decided to partner with government to train health workers and village health teams to help them administer the drug effectively to have a healthy children.

“We shall conduct door to door exercise where we will give every child vitamin A and Albendazole so that they remain healthy. Why government is planning to introduce it in public health facilities, we wanted the health workers and village health teams to become foot soldiers to have the right information,” said Kasirye.

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