By Benon Herbert Oluka
Finding a man who is a professional midwife turned out to
be most difficult task. It is a midwife after all, not a ‘mid-husband’.
Determined to talk to a ‘male midwife’ on reproductive
health, I set out to look for one.
At Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery, the secretary looked
shocked just by the mention of the words ‘male midwife’.
“We don’t train male midwives. Maybe you try
4th Floor of that building,” she said.
Fourth Floor is home to the department of Gynaecology. But
even here, the secretary had never heard of a practising male
“All the [practising] midwives here are women. We don’t
have men,” she said.
Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Association too had none, according
to the registrar.
Would the private practitioners salvage the situation? The
Uganda Private Midwives’ Association (UPMA) could not
provide an answer either.
UPMA Chairperson, Sakina Kiggundu, later said there was one
in Mukono who registered two years ago, but is no longer an
“He used to practise but he retired,” she said.
Just like his Fort Portal counterpart, details of the male
midwife in Mukono were scanty.
The search took me to Mpigi where I finally chanced on Farouk
Muyingo, 27, a nursing assistant who has practised midwifery
but is yet to register.
He had just helped Jane Nalumansi to deliver at Mpigi health
“She has delivered a boy. He is 3.2 kilogrammes,”
he said excitedly.
His excitement told of a man who likes his job. But does any
woman like the sight of a man other than their husband in
the maternity ward with her legs apart?
“Yeah,” Muyingo replied quickly. “Most
women like to be delivered by men because they say men show
interest, and are more caring than fellow women who say; ‘twalabadda’
(We have seen it all before)”.
According to Muyingo, the preference for men stems from the
fact that female midwives are impatient and handle the expectant
mother roughly, as opposed to men who are caring and patient.
Muyingo picked interest in midwifery from his mother, a midwife.
By the time he enrolled to become a nursing assistant, he
could already deliver children by himself.
In 2003, he was posted to Mpigi health centre’s maternity
department. His duties include delivering expectant mothers,
providing family planning services, anti-natal care, and post-natal
care services, counselling of new mothers, and prevention
of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS during delivery.
But Muyingo faces occupational hazards, most notably lack
of protective gear, like gloves.
Without protection, Muyingo says he has to do most of the
work with his bare hands – dangerous enough, especially
given the risk of HIV/AIDS.
There are other problems, like women who don’t attend
anti-natal clinics; or those who come in full term [after
nine months] without preparation. Many women also try to deliver
from their villages and only come to the health centre when
they run into trouble.
“But we have no theatre,” Muyingo complained.
He advises women to always go to health centres for check
up so that those with complications are quickly taken to more
competent health facilities.
Kiggundu says UPMA would welcome more Muyingos.
“Sure. Why not? Reproductive health is for both men
and women,” she said, adding that there are few male
midwives because “it is a new field to them”.
Asked if male midwives wouldn’t be driven out of the
field by the fact that many women would not be ready to be
delivered by men, she said even the women who are sceptical
would get used once male midwives became common.
“Since there are male doctors and they treat women,
then we can have male midwives. In fact, some women like to
be treated by male doctors,” Kiggundu said.
For Muyingo, in just two years, he has made such a mark in
Mpigi that he is now referred to as musawo [doctor], a fitting
tribute to a man who has ventured into a field that –
to most men – is a no go area.