April 5 – 11 is International Health Worker Week. Every day, dedicated health workers around the world spend long hours—often for very little pay—to keep their communities healthy. For the next week, UVP will be highlighting a few of the health workers we partner with who ensure good health for all Ugandans.
By Kait Maloney, UVP Managing Director
Hatika Namyalo is trained nurse and current medical student in Uganda who has a vision to help poor and marginalized women in her country. Her passion for medical work was sparked during a church mission trip in 2007 to the eastern region of Karamoja in Uganda, an isolated area with a semi-nomadic population. She saw children dying of pneumonia and women dying in childbirth without access to the critical services they needed. Hatika knew that she belonged in the medical field.
She completed a course in nursing and then began her medical course. During this time she heard about Uganda Village Project (UVP) and our fistula program. Fistula is a childbirth injury that leaves the mother leaking urine or feces uncontrollably; UVP identifies women with the condition and sends them for repair surgery. The surgeries are done by the UK Childbirth Injuries Fund, but UVP helps the surgeons by identifying a local medical student who can assist them during the camps. Hatika began working with UVP in 2012, and while witnessing her first fistula repair she knew that she wanted to specialize as a gynecological surgeon. “There are so many ways medical professionals can intervene to stop fistulas from ever happening: good prenatal care for the mothers, safe deliveries with qualified midwives, and access to quality emergency obstetric care,” she said, acknowledging that medical care for fistula involves not just surgery but also holistic maternal health care.
Being a health worker in Uganda is not without its challenges. Hatika mentioned that low salaries and under-resourced hospitals are the two main challenges she sees for health workers here. However, when asked why she still wants to pursue a medical career even when she knows the challenges, she replied, “The smile you see on a fistula survivor’s face when they are able to sit with others without leaking and talk about their experience is worth all of the challenges.” Hatika has a bright future in caring for the mothers of Uganda.