Duchess of Cambridge praises midwives working with disadvantaged mothers in Uganda

Kensington Palace shared a picture of the duchess interviewing the midwife. (Kensington Palace)
Kensington Palace shared a picture of the duchess interviewing the midwife. (Kensington Palace)

The Duchess of Cambridge heard about the challenges facing midwives and nurses in Uganda, including how they deal with partner abuse and mental health, as she interviewed the founder of a community scheme which helps women in pregnancy and childbirth.

Kate interviewed community midwife Harriet Nayiga for the May issue of Nursing Times, to mark the end of a three-year campaign to raise the profile of nursing.

Nayiga runs a voluntary programme called Midwife-led Community Transformation (MILCOT) from two rooms in her home, sleeping in the third, and supports women including teenagers in pregnancies.

Kate, 39, heard about the programme and how Nayiga listens to and supports women in disadvantaged communities who need medical care before complications arise.

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Nayiga told the duchess that many women in the area they serve have accidental home births because they can't get to hospital in time.

She said: "These are the populations who face grave discrimination, so they tend to go to the hospital late, after complications have already emerged. I felt that I had to come and bridge this gap before the women reached me with serious complications.

"Midwives are in a position to provide preventative initiatives on the ground before the complications have arrived or have emerged. This is the challenge that Midwife-led Community Transformation (MILCOT) is solving."

Nayiga previously worked caring for pregnant teenagers in crisis, some of whom had been raped, and helped to train them in economic resilience as well as offering them care and support.

She then retrained in order to work in the community and provide healthcare.

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Kate asked about parental mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that it was a particular problem that is being faced in the UK.

Nayiga said: "Some of the women are going through what we call intimate partner violence. She’s facing violence from her partner, the partner is not providing, the partner abuses her, beats her. Others who are doing sex work, they find a lot of abuse from the men they sleep with – so they are all stressed, they have depression. We have provided group psychotherapy and we assess the level of depression."

Nayiga and her team are all volunteers, and she finds herself having to walk to most of the places where she helps women, as she can't afford to keep a car.

Kate told 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 interview features in the May issue of the magazine, for which Kate also chose the cover.

The two women spoke in March but the interview was released for International Day of the Midwife on 5 May.

The three year Nursing Now campaign comes to an end this month. It was launched by Kate in February 2018 in Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and she has been its royal patron throughout.

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