Meet Lochop, the village doctor

“I have seen women and babies dies in my community, I will do anything to save them.”

Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye
maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

18 September 2018

Meet Emmanuel Akiro Lochop, a Village Health Team (VHT) member in Lokopo subcounty, Napak District, remote Karamoja sub-region. He has been a VHT for 10 years now and earned himself a new title ‘Piripiri doctor’, which means a doctor as tough as pepper (piripiri) who treats women and children.

Lochop and 634 other VHTS in Napak District have received training in community mother and newborn care supported by UNICEF with financial assistance from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). They are saving mothers and babies from preventable deaths.

maternal and newborn health
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

Each day, his work begins with perusing through a voluminous book – the VHT register, where keeps he records of all pregnant women and new borns in his catchment area are kept. The details therein, inform his work and movements. He has details of all of them and knows them by name.

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

He has earned trust from the community because he is knowledgeable about issues of children and women. Thanks to UNICEF through CUAMM and funding from KOICA, Lochop received training on community mother and newborn care. “I now know when a pregnant woman is in danger. I know the danger signs and once I see them during my visits, I quickly refer or take the mother or baby myself to the health centre.”

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

It is time for Lochop to head out to the community. The pregnant mothers and newborn babies await his services. According to the register, he is scheduled to visit Angelina Nawal, 20 year old mother, expecting her second child at the end of July 2018. Lochop is making the third visit to Nawal’s home.

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

Nawal is happy to see her ‘Doctor’. She is 35 weeks pregnant and her due date is very close. She needs all the support and advice from the ‘Doctor.’ He makes regular visits to pregnant women encouraging them to attend antenatal care visits at the health facility, deliver at health facilities, watch out for danger signs like bleeding, swollen feet, etc. as well as return to the health facilities for post natal care.

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

The topic of the day is delivering at the health facility with support of a skilled health worker. Using Information, Education and Communication materials, Lochop engages with Nawal and her husband clearly articulating the benefits of delivering at the health facility. “Before I was equipped with this knowledge, I never cared about pregnant mothers in my communities. I never cared if they delivered at health facilities and what the benefits were.” "Today, I ensure all pregnant women in my area go to the health facility in time for delivery to reduce any associated risks," he passionately asserts.

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

He endeavours to stress the messages to the pregnant mother. They also talk about labour signs. Lochop encourages the husband to provide all the necessary support during this time and after delivery. Lochop recalls that in the past, pregnant women in his village were supported by traditional birth attendants during delivery, and many plus their babies died. "The children died mainly due to the cold."

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

The visits and information by Lochop have been very valuable. Nawal has completed all the recommended antenatal care visits as advised. She will deliver from the health facility as stressed by Lochop and the health workers at the facility. She also has a transport voucher provided through KOICA support, that she will utilise to move to the hospital as soon as the labour pains begin.

maternal and newborn health in Uganda
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Adriko

Lochop is also part of the peer support group at the health facility that utilises songs, drama and poems to disseminate messages on maternal and newborn health. “I have seen women and babies die in my community, I will do anything to save them.”