Challenges Affecting Maternal Health Using Photovoice by Youth in Rural Communities in Uganda

The study used photovoice as a Community Based Participatory Research method using photography to identify the challenges affecting maternal health in rural communities in Uganda. This included holding discussions to further explore the challenges and streamline feasible solutions, and to disseminate the findings to stakeholders. The study was carried out in Ssisa sub-county, Wakiso district, which is a rural area in central region Uganda. 

Participants were trained to use cameras to capture aspects and situations in their community regarding maternal health challenges being faced for 5 months. Monthly meetings were held between the youth and research team to discuss the photos taken during each period.

The study established that the community faced several challenges in accessing maternal health services. These included long distance to health facilities, inadequate transport, waiting for long hours at health facilities, poor health worker attitudes, and absence of health workers at facilities. Several socio-determinants of health affected maternal health in the community were also identified.

The youth photovoice photographers benefited by becoming more knowledgeable about maternal health, and increasing their capacity to address community problems.

Submitted by:
David Musoke

Delays in receiving care

After walking to get to a facility, many would think that the hard part is over. However, pregnant women must often wait several hours for a consultation. Here, two pregnant women lay on the grass outside the health centre waiting for health workers to arrive.

Photographer: John Sserwadda

Teenage pregnancies

Teenage pregnancy is associated with greater complications for both the mother and child, which can often result in death. Pictured here is a pregnant teenager who is also carrying her first child in her arms.

Photographer: Anthony Mpanga

Limited use of contraceptives

Although several methods for contraception are available in Uganda, many couples do nothing to space their children. In this photo are 2 siblings who could be mistaken to be twins. As the younger baby is learning how to sit, the elder one is only crawling.

Photographer: Roger Mubiru

Low male involvement

Pregnant women who are accompanied by their spouses to public health facilities for antenatal care are attended to first before those who are alone. However, male involvement is still low. Here, a pregnant woman unaccompanied by their spouse waits to be seen by a health worker at a health facility.

Photographer: Annet Nakayima

No relief from household chores during pregnancy

Women in rural Uganda do a lot of domestic work. This includes cultivation, washing clothes, cooking and other household chores which continue during pregnancy. In this picture, a pregnant woman a few weeks from delivery as she was from collecting water from a distant water source for household use.

Photographer: John Sserwada