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MUKONO, UGANDA   The road to global safe motherhood seems long.

And Uganda, like many other developing countries, is struggling to help meet Millennium Development Goal 5 of reducing global maternal deaths by 75 per cent by 2015.

But grassroots efforts remain key and, in Uganda, communities and individuals are stepping forward like never before as champions for maternal care.

In recognition, Save the Mothers gave seven honours during its Healthy Mothers, Healthy Nation initiative March 6.

They were to Dr. Asa Ahimbisibwe and Sr. Dr. Priscilla Busingye, both of Kasese, two obstetricians awarded for their work, particularly with fistula repair, in remote Uganda; Straight Talk Foundation for its public advocacy; MP Sylvia Sinnabulya for her safe motherhood work in Uganda’s Parliament; Catherine Kizza Mwesigwa, the features editor at the New Vision, for her advocacy in the media; Budondo community for the various safe motherhood groups and activities it is involved with, and Rose Achen, a midwife who delivers about 40 children a month in her rural clinic.

“It’s the first time we’ve had these awards that were meant as a special recognition,” explained Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, founding executive director of STM.

“This has really encouraged me and inspired me, so that we can have a force of journalists as a community for the cause of safe motherhood,” said Kizza, a former STM student.

“To get this kind of honour was very inspiring and encouraging,” said Ivan Tibenka, the LC chair of Budondo and another STM graduate. “We are going to do more for the good of our mothers. Especially when given by the First Lady, we feel like we are really doing something.”

Since 2005, about 125 students have gone through the STM programme, many to influence policies of the organizations for which they work.