In rural Uganda, where giving birth at home is often the only option, a silent war against maternal mortality rages: Eva Nangalo, a midwife whose dedication has transformed childbirth for countless mothers and their babies.
Defying economic barriers and family opposition to secure her midwifery license, Eva considers this as more than just a job, it’s her purpose.
Eva doesn’t just deliver babies, she fights for them. She uses radio to address misconceptions in Uganda about healthcare, highlighting the risks of home births and promoting hospital deliveries due to the higher risks of fatal infection and bleeding. In 2023, she established a newborn clinic in Nakaseke, improving the safety of childbirth at the hospital and increasing the number of families served.
“Patients, colleagues, and supervisors call Nangalo a voice for the voiceless: for mothers who hadn’t felt seen or heard by the country’s healthcare system, babies whose deaths were preventable, and healthcare workers without the resources or know-how to advocate for themselves. Her work as a midwife is lifesaving—and her work as a mentor to other midwives is responsible for saving many thousands more.”
— Bill Gates
But her biggest impact might be on other midwives. She travels for hours, on her own dime, to teach them lifesaving skills and empower them to save mothers and babies.
In April 2023, Eva was recognized as a hero in her field by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a testament to her determination and work of 23 years to end maternal mortality.
In an interview with SheCentre, Eva shed light on the challenges midwives face in Uganda, from dealing with electricity blackouts during deliveries to the lack of ambulances, forcing them to use motorcycles to transport newborns to nearby hospitals. She also mentioned how she keeps her hair short to save money, redirecting those funds to help patients in need. Through a farming business and the unwavering support of her husband, Eva strives to make a lasting impact.
“I’ve wanted my hair to be like other women. But then I think of the one dollar saving a mother’s life”
Today, Nangalo’s a legend. Mothers, babies, and midwives across Uganda, Africa, and even the world know her name. From defying odds to becoming a global hero, her story is one of pure passion and impact.