Christine Otai is a midwife in Uganda with more than 30 years’ experience caring for women and newborns. Before joining Adara Development as a Newborn National Trainer, Ms. Otai was responsible for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and maternity departments at Kiwoko Hospital. Kiwoko Hospital is a remote clinic in the Nakaseke District of central Uganda. Ms. Otai started working with Kiwoko Hospital in 1989 when it was still merely a health centre with a handful of maternity beds. Under her leadership, the hospital established a NICU that now treats over 1,000 sick and vulnerable newborns every year. This NICU was one of the country’s first and it provides some of the best quality care in Uganda. When the NICU was introduced at Kiwoko, Ms. Otai took the unit and staff under her wing. She challenged her staff to be the best, to ask questions, and to keep learning. While working with Kiwoko Hospital, Ms. Otai was on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week. She knew every baby in the NICU, their family, and their specific needs. With very limited resources, she did everything to ensure these babies received the best possible care.
When you begin with basic nursing, that’s wonderful. That’s how babies’ lives can be saved.
Ms. Otai’s strong leadership has encouraged excellence among her peers, fostered a strong healthcare community in the region, and brought stability to a country torn apart by civil war. She has personally trained hundreds of staff on how to provide quality care to the most vulnerable infants. The skills that She helped staff develop have impacted the lives of countless newborns. Ms. Otai’s achievements have been internationally recognized. She was a finalist in the 2014 International Midwife Awards, was honoured with the International Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award in 2010 at the International Conference of Neonatal Nurses (ICNN), and in 2019 she was recognized as a Newborn Champion by the Ugandan Ministry of Health.
In her current role, Ms. Otai provides training and mentoring to nurses throughout the country to grow Uganda’s new generation of leaders. She has been influential in the establishment of other newborn units in Uganda, including those at Nakaseke Hospital and Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. She is passionate about saving newborn lives and is determined to share her knowledge with others, no matter how far away – even mentoring others on the other side of the country via WhatsApp. Throughout her accomplished career, Ms. Otai has saved thousands of lives and continues to impact thousands more through her country-wide mentorship programme. Photo credit: ICM.