Urinary Tract Infections: 9 Things You Can Do To Prevent UTIs

Ever sat down on the toilet and felt a searing, burning pain when you tried to urinate? It may also have felt like you couldn’t properly empty your bladder – hardly surprising when it feels like you’re pushing razor blades out of your urethra!

What you experienced was a urinary tract infection (UTI), and some experts say that as many as 50% of women will experience at least one UTI in her lifetime.

What is a UTI, what causes it and what are the symptoms?

A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system, or the urethra, bladder or kidneys. It’s usually caused by bacteria (like e-coli) from the large intestine travelling from the anus to the urethra. This is the primary reason women are taught to wipe from front to back, which limits the risk of contamination.

Once a UTI sets in, it can travel to the bladder and even the kidneys if left untreated, and it can cause serious damage if ignored.

The symptoms of a UTI include:

  • A burning sensation when you urinate
  • Increased urge to urinate, even though very little urine comes out when you go
  • Dark, cloudy or strange-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or dizziness
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
  • Feeling tired or shaky
  • Feeling fevery (which is a sign that the infection may have spread to your kidneys)

9 Ways to help prevent a UTI

Whether you’ve had one, none or countless UTIs, there are several things you can do to help reduce your chances of contracting an infection – even if you’re in a high-risk category (like if you’re diabetic or menopausal, for example).

You should always:

  • Drink enough fluids to help flush out your bladder regularly (most UTIs are caused by bacteria that’s already in the bladder but allowed to multiply to unhealthy levels. Regular urination helps prevent this build-up).
  • Always empty your bladder after sex, as sexual activity can cause harmful bacteria to travel into your urethra.
  • Never hold it in if you need to urinate.
  • Wipe from front to back after you’ve urinated.
  • Avoid feminine hygiene products as these kill both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria helps fight the germs that cause UTIs.
  • If you’re prone to UTIs, avoid bathing – stick to showers instead.
  • Wear cotton underwear.
  • Include probiotics in your diet.
  • Always change out of wet or sweaty underwear right away, like after swimming or exercising.

Visit Marie Stopes for your next women’s wellness check-up

Whether you suspect you may have a UTI or you simply want to make sure you’re in the best possible health, pop into your nearest Marie Stopes centre for your annual women’s wellness check up. And, if you have any of the symptoms listed above, get to your doctor, gynae or clinic right away.

Find your nearest Marie Stopes centre or call our toll free hotline 0800220333 now.

Maternal health voucher initiative opens doors for safe deliveries

“I feel so happy that I was able to deliver my baby safely. I received good care and attention from the health workers here; my baby and I were in good hands,” says Alice Nalubwama from her bed in the maternity ward at Kamuli Mission Hospital in Eastern Uganda. “When I was referred here from the clinic I was worried because I felt my baby was in danger. But the doctors here helped me and I delivered safely.” The 24 year old delivered her fourth child by caesarean section. With her new born in her arms and her mother by her side, she smiles broadly as a midwife conducts a ward round checking on Nalubwama and other new mothers.

What may sound like a routine and ordinary event is often not the case for women like Nalubwama in many parts of Uganda. Even though the recently released Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) shows that about 7 out of 10 women now deliver with the help of a skilled professional, there are still pockets of inequality especially in rural areas. There, having a baby is not always an easy journey and for many women the costs involved are a prohibitive factor; many end up delivering at home or with unqualified birth attendants who cannot handle complicated deliveries.

With her first three children, Nalubwama says she and her husband, who are peasant farmers, had to use up all their savings so that she could attend ante-natal care and deliver at a private clinic near her home.

As a way to address the challenges faced by women like Nalubwama, a new initiative, the Maternal Health Voucher Scheme was introduced. The Scheme is one component of the Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child Health Country Engagement plan, implemented by UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF. One of the objectives is to ensure availability and utilization of high impact maternal health interventions at birth and during the postnatal period. The beneficiaries include women and men in 30 districts where maternal mortality is still high and access to good quality services for women during pregnancy and delivery is still a challenge.

In eight districts in Eastern Uganda, UNFPA supports partner Marie Stopes Uganda to implement the Maternal Health Voucher scheme. Rolled out in June 2016, the initiative is implemented in 100 public and private health facilities that are accredited by Marie Stopes to provide maternal health services. The scheme works through a network of 200 trained volunteer health workers (Village Health Teams) who are a critical link to the health system. The VHTS identify needy prospective mothers and sell them vouchers at 4,000 shillings. (About $1). They also provide information to pregnant women on the importance of attending at least four ante natal care visits and delivering at a health facility.

The voucher card allows the mother to access services throughout pregnancy and delivery, with just one single payment. Once a mother buys the voucher she is entitled to four ante-natal care visits, delivery under the care of a skilled health professional and post-natal care. For women who develop complications, an ambulance is available to ensure there are no delays in getting them to a higher level facility where they can receive more specialised care.

This is exactly what happened in Nalubwama’s case. At the Health Centre III where she was originally meant to have her baby, the health workers were concerned that her labour was not progressing well. “The midwife said that my contractions were weak and that I may not be able to push the baby out. I was so worried; I did not know what would happen next,” Nalubwama recalls.

Realising that she might need a caesarean section the health workers quickly referred her by ambulance to the bigger and better equipped Kamuli Mission Hospital where the caesarean section was performed. Ordinarily the operation would have cost about 500,000 shillings, not counting the cost of transport to the hospital. Nalubwama and her family paid nothing.

For Dr Andrew Muleledhu, the Medical Superintendent of Kamuli Mission Hospital, the fact that Nalubwama and others like her are able to access such services is testament to the power of the Voucher Scheme. “At the heart of it the voucher system is addressing poverty. That voucher is money in the hands of the mother. It is preventing this mother and her family from going into financial catastrophe simply because they are having a baby. That is universal health coverage at its best,” he says.

Sister Jane Nelima a midwife at Mayuge Health Centre III one of the facilities where the Voucher Scheme operates could not agree more. She explains that as a midwife she is happy that with the Voucher Scheme she is able to see more mothers coming to the ante natal care clinic and coming back to deliver at the facility.

To date, 1,939 women in the eight districts where the Voucher Scheme is implemented have been supported to deliver at a health facility, attended to by trained and skilled health workers. A total of 14,999 vouchers have been sold, meaning that many more mothers will be receiving critical maternal health care in months to come.

As for Nalubwama, the only thing that could top her experience of having a safe delivery was the thought of getting back home to her husband and other children and introducing the new addition to the family.

– See more at: here

HPV And Cervical Cancer: The Importance Of Pap Smears


The topic of pap smears, HPV and cervical cancer is relevant to any woman who is 21 or older, so if that’s you – or your partner, friends, siblings or the women in your community – listen up and help spread the word.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common and deadliest forms of the disease, but unlike other types of cancer, it can be detected early and treated –and in some cases, even prevented before it happens. That’s where pap smears come in.

What is a pap smear?

A pap smear is a quick, simple and relatively painless procedure that can safeguard you against cervical cancer. It’s a test that doctors perform to check for the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the cervix. When performed regularly, it’s a form of preventative healthcare as it can detect the presence of unhealthy cells before they have the chance to develop into cancer.

Pap smears take just a couple of minutes and can be performed by your gynae, or at a clinic. They’re not particularly uncomfortable, though every woman experiences them differently. Some women feel nothing at all, and other women report a little discomfort.

If a pap smear detects abnormal cells, those cells can easily be removed from the cervix before they result in cancer.

Do I need a pap smear?

Yes, if you are a woman who is 21 years of age or older. All adult women should undergo regular pap smears.

How often should I have a pap smear?

If the results of your first pap smear are normal, it’s recommended you go every three years. For women who have abnormal results, more regular testing may be required. Your doctor, clinic or gynae will advise you on how often you should be having a pap smear.

What’s the link between HPV and cervical cancer?

In the vast majority of cases, cervical cancer is caused by high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a form of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is extremely common.

In some women, this STI is contracted and then suppressed by the immune system, causing only temporary changes to the cells in the cervix. This explains why some women have abnormal pap smear results, but normal results six months or a year later.

In other cases, HPV can be persistent and eventually lead to pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. Pap smears will test for abnormal cells, and if follow-up pap smears still detect these abnormalities, a simple procedure can be performed to remove the threat.

Where can I go for a pap smear?

A pap smear can be performed by your gynae or at any Marie Stopes centre across Uganda. Visit your most convenient Marie Stopes centre, and you’ll also be able to chat to us about your contraceptive options, get screened for STIs and HIV, and get personalised sexual healthcare advice.

Find your closest Marie Stopes centre or call our toll free hotline 0800220333 now and speak to our trained counselors.

Improving access to maternal health services for women

Demand side financing is a tool that is being utilized to improve the utilization of under used services among the poor and under-served populations by placing purchasing power as well as choice of provider directly in the hands of the recipients (World health Report 2010).

This is an important innovation in health care systems where access remains poor and therefore the utilization and uptake of services very low among those who would benefit most from these services, that is to say the poor and vulnerable sections of the populations.

This is especially true for services such as family planning, maternal health and child health.

The writer is the head of communications and public relations at the Marie Stopes Uganda - Faith Kyateka

Every year there are 1,600,000 pregnancies in Uganda and many of these pregnant women face the probability of living or dying while giving life. – Faith Kyateka

Every year there are 1,600,000 pregnancies in Uganda and many of these pregnant women face the probability of living or dying while giving life. According to the World Health Statistics report 2015, maternal mortality is at 320/100,000

Matched with the poor health seeking behavior (less than half of Ugandan women deliver with a skilled attendant) the need for a demand side intervention that actively engages both the private and public sector is clear.

In Uganda various demand side financing interventions have been tried which involve the use of subsidies or vouchers.

Voucher schemes like the Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher project implemented by Ministry of Health with Marie Stopes Uganda as the voucher management agency, are designed for women of reproductive age living below the poverty line.

Community health workers sell the voucher to pregnant women that entitle poor women to attend to skilled care during pregnancy, delivery and post-natal period in South Western and Eastern Uganda.

In this case a voucher is a document that authorises payment of a health service; therefore, it is a token that can be exchanged for a pre-defined set of health services or products. The voucher enables public subsidies for services or products to follow the client rather than being tied to providers.

The voucher system which is aimed at boosting maternal health services in 240 health facilities is being implemented in 25 districts of south west and eastern parts of the country.
Since the project started in April 2016, 65,000 expectant mothers have benefited from the project.

Specifically a total of 32,000 babies have been delivered to women from a socio-economic group that had a very low rate of uptake of maternal health services prior to the project. The demand for the voucher continues to be very high often exciding supply.

Dr. Michael Bukenya (chairperson of the health committee of Parliament) says that the voucher project proves that health financing is possible and therefore provides good lessons and benchmarks for the National Health Insurance Scheme which has been under review for a long time.

In conclusion, demand side financing projects particularly vouchers have proved to be effective in enhancing people’s motivation to seek for health services, improving health system performance and boosting facility deliverables as well as skilled birth attendance thereby contributing to the reduction of maternal mortality.

These services should be widely available to pregnant women in low resource settings. Therefore, as we mark International women’s day, It is critical that every pregnant woman and new-born has access to and receives good quality care and life saving interventions around the time of birth.

The writer is the head of communications and public relations at the Marie Stopes Uganda


#Beboldforchange is a tagline for International Women’s day which is marked every year on March 8. This theme gears us to all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world where women and girls have quality education, health care, decent work, access and ownership rights over property and technology and equal participation in political and economic decision making.

The Minister Dr Jane Aceng with some of the key staff of Marie Stopes

The Minister Dr Jane Aceng with some of the key staff of Marie Stopes

According World Economic Forum, gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. This gender disparity is due to some factors like women being underrepresented in the government, they are the minority in the booming tech sector yet still shoulder more in the household burden and having a greater risk of rape and domestic violence. Are we therefore going to seat, cross our arms and wait for a decade and yet many women in Uganda face a wide range of challenges like discrimination and lack of economic self-sufficiency which has led to gender based violence, limited access to health care and family planning leading to maternal and neonatal mortality and limited resources for the girl child to be in school.

To address these gaps, we need to learn from and replicate projects that have worked well to empower women; these include but are not limited to subsides for women, investment income generating activities, supporting girls stay in school among others.

One such project that Maries Stopes is implementing is the Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Program. This is a 4 year Ministry of Health project aimed at increasing access to skilled care among poor women living in rural and disadvantaged areas during pregnancy and delivery. This project has empowered many less privileged mothers in Uganda to uptake antenatal care and safe delivery services thus strengthening institutional capacity to deliver reproductive health services to women and girls.

Therefore, to have more girls and women at the table, we must commit to advancing women and bring about change that is directly and aggressive reaching out to other women through coaching programs and initiatives; we need to identify the right forums which empower women socially, economically and also their health. We need to strengthen investments in service provision and advocacy more especially to health and family planning contraceptives, and a right to education for the girl child.


By. Mahoro Rose, Sexual Reproductive Counselor, Marie Stopes Uganda

Apply to become an SRH Ambassador!

Be the Choice!
Are you are young person between the ages of 18-25 years? Do you have interest in advancing Sexual Reproductive Health(SRH) within your community? If yes, Marie Stopes Uganda has a new exciting volunteering program for you.
Send us your application at info@mariestopes.or.ug including a brief biography, contact information, name of university/ institution, district/region of your university and year of study.  The application should have your motivation/application letter.

The letter should be addressed to the Head of Communications and Public Relations

In addition send us a two page write up about;

  1. any Sexual Reproductive Health challenges faced by youth in your community/school
  2.  why you would like to be an SRH ambassador.
  3. You could also share how you would solve those challenges.

For the start, we are currently rolling out the program in the following districts below namely; Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, Tororo, Mbale, Soroti, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Hoima, Fortportal,  Arua, Gulu, Lira. Youth in these areas are encouraged to apply.

Applications sent on email should be marked with the subject “SRH Ambassador” and sent to info@mariestopes.or.ug

Deadline for applications is 20th March 2017

Note: This is a volunteer opportunity and its not full time.

For more details, refer to our website (http://www.mariestopes.or.ug/) or you call 0800220333 toll free.

Information Sharing Meeting on Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Project(URHVP)

Marie Stopes Uganda in partnership with the Ministry of Health was honoured to organise an information sharing meeting for all stake holders from the 25 districts where the (Uganda Reproductive Heatlth Voucher Project (URHVP) project is being implemented, Health Development partners and other agencies implementing results based financing programs to review progress of project implementation at Lake Victoria Serena Lweza on Tuesday 28th February, 2017.

Hon. Opendi Achieng Sarah gave a key note address at the meeting.

Hon. Opendi Achieng Sarah gave a key note address at the meeting.

This project is aimed at increasing access to skilled care among poor women living in rural and disadvantaged areas during pregnancy and delivery. The project is supported by the Swedish Government, the World Bank Group and UNFPA.

The project has been implemented since September 2015  and has managed to expand skilled care among poor pregnant women in the project districts.

To date, over 65,000 women have so far benefited from this project.

The Hon. Opendi Achieng Sarah with some of the key staff of Marie Stopes

The Hon. Opendi Achieng Sarah with some of the key staff of Marie Stopes namely the Country Director(Left) and the Managing Director(right) and the Head of Communications(far left).

Press Release in Response to News Article

Marie Stopes Uganda would like to respond to media reports titled “ Couple sues Marie Stopes over unplanned child”.

Marie Stopes Uganda is not aware of any law suit commenced by any of its clients to whom it has provided sexual and reproductive health services. Marie Stopes Uganda has provided sexual and reproductive health services to millions of Ugandans and our clients are always informed and understand that no method of contraception has 100% success rate.

We remain committed to our mission of helping women have children by choice, not chance and will continue to provide the high quality services that our clients know us for.

MOH Permanent Secretary visits URHVP

MOH Permanent Secretary visits URHVP

 The Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwiine (4th right), MD Marie Stopes Dr Carole Sekimpi (2nd left) in a group photo with the URHVP team.

The Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwiine (4th right), MD Marie Stopes Dr Carole Sekimpi (2nd left) in a group photo with the URHVP team.

The Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Project (URHVP) recently conducted a field visit with a high powered delegation led by the new MoH Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwiine. It was a great platform to discuss how best results based financing can be operationalized to get out puts out of both public and private players in Uganda’s health sector. The team visited a number of centres in the East that are supported by the URHVP program.

The Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Project (URHVP) is a Ministry of Health program being implemented in partnership with Marie Stopes Uganda (MSU) with support from the World Bank. The overarching goal of the URHVP is to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity through increased access to skilled care (Voucher Based Services) during pregnancy, delivery and postnatal period.

Uganda has high maternal mortality ratio of 438/100,000 live births, 435/100,000 live births in 2006 and 524/100,000 live births in 2000. A perinatal mortality rate of 27/1000 pregnancies in 2011, 46/1000 pregnancies in 2006 and 55/1000 pregnancies in 2000.

This four years project is currently being implemented in the South- Western and Eastern districts of  Uganda in Mbarara, Kabale, Kanungu, Ntungamo Kiruhura, Sheema, Buhweju, Mitooma, Ibanda, Isingiro, Bushenyi ,Rubirizi, Rakai, Sembabule, Masaka, Jinja, Kamuli, Buyende, Kaliro,  Luuka, Mayuge, Iganga, Namutumba, Kibuku, Tororo,  and Namayingo.