Midwifery in Uganda & El Salvador partnerships


Chin Swain, a senior midwife, specialising in education and training, worked at CUH for over 10 years. She has volunteered with Cambridge Global Health Partnerships (formerly Addenbrooke’s Abroad) since 2012 and involved with two different health partnerships.

“I followed my mum’s footsteps, she was a nurse and has always been my inspiration. I went on to train as a nurse and then a midwife, this allowed me to work closely with mothers during their pregnancy and birth. My passion is safety for mothers and babies, this is the first step to ensuring each family has the best start in life and that is the most rewarding part of my job.”

I was first introduced to the idea of international work when I attended an evening presentation by Dr Hannah Missfelder-Lobos (Consultant Obstetrician) about the CGHP-El Salvador health partnership. Hannah was so passionate about the project; and what the programme was trying to achieve was incredible. It had an ambitious aim, to reshape healthcare delivery for pregnant women in El Salvador. Inspired by Hannah’s talk, I spoke to her about potential opportunities to make an impact in El Salvador and globally.

As a midwife with a passion for education and training, I knew I would be able to positively contribute to the project which has not been realised to be life changing for both myself and the people involved.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in El Salvador project since 2012. I have seen first-hand, the importance of working in partnerships with our local counterparts; to introduce change, the facilitation of change and by supporting local change agents to make a sustainable impact in global health. Strong relationships have been fostered through repeated visits and sharing of knowledge and skills from both the UK and El Salvador. The UK team’s impact, has been well received and has generated much interest, encouraging the local hospitals to look at the service delivery and staff Chin Swain RM MSc Senior Midwifery Lecturer University of Hertfordshire development. Our work has been supported by the Health Minister of El Salvador and many of our partnership work has been realised nationally. Learning and sharing new ideas from our El Salvadorian friends such as the introduction of the music therapy and reflexology in ICU is pioneering – music therapy for staff and patients is something I would like to see established here.

Recently, I have also volunteered on the Uganda (2016) health partnership with Addenbrooke’s Abroad, where we are working with our counterparts to develop clinical guidelines to reduce the leading causes of maternal deaths and the dissemination of them into practice. It was a humbling experience to work with such passionate and dedicated staff, who continue to strive with us to better care for women and babies.

The key to the success of the projects is to maintain a long term commitment to the project, this enhances the working relationship within the team and ensures sustainability of the projects locally. I am grateful to CGHP in support of such life changing projects.

I have developed a much greater appreciation of what the NHS and its healthcare professionals have accomplished and continue to achieve.

I have fostered strong relationships with the other team members and our El Salvadorian counterparts, we are a family, a global family who respects and appreciates the differences that enriches us, but with one goal – better care for mothers and babies.

I would highly recommend volunteering overseas to colleagues, as it is a rewarding way of sharing and gaining knowledge and to foster lifelong friends. Everyone needs a midwife and I am proud to be one.”

Chin Swain RM MSc Senior Midwifery Lecturer University of Hertfordshire