By Musisi Yiga John Updated at 1054 EAT on 09th March 2022.
Female legislators under their umbrella body, the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) have petitioned government to provide sufficient funds in the 2022-2023 national budget for maternal health care.
UWOPA chairperson, Hon Sarah Opendi, while presenting the petition during plenary on Thursday, 03 March 2022, said that whilst there were reduced cases of maternal mortality, the health sector still needed to be well equipped.
The maternal mortality rate in the county, according to the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey stands at 336 deaths per 100,000 live births. Teenage pregnancy contributes up to 17 per cent of all maternal deaths with over 300,000 teenage pregnancies reported.
“The Government through the Minister responsible for health to ensure that all the staff who provide maternal health care services in Uganda are fully trained and all health centres fully equipped,” she said.
Opendi, also the Tororo District Woman Representative, noted that most of the women who have given birth in hospitals or at home, do not have access or are not aware of postnatal care.
“Even though 74 per cent of childbirths in Uganda are attended to by skilled health personnel, it is important to note that 44 per cent of women do not receive postnatal care within two weeks after child birth,” she said, adding that because of the dehumanising treatment occasioned to the mothers at hospitals, many turn to the services of traditional birth attendants who were outlawed in 2005.
She also noted that the Constitution sets out the State’s duty to ensure all Ugandans enjoy access to health services and make practical measures to provide basic medical services.
“We are well aware that during the COVID-19 lock down, we lost mothers due to various reasons that can be avoided. We have seen cases where doctors ask for money before a C-section, or some supplies because some health workers ask for money before offering the treatment,” she said.
She further informed members that there was need for the ministry to provide a hotline where mothers in labour can report cases of negligence.
“Most women in labour do not have money and yet they need help at that moment. The ministry should set up a dedicated hotline where women in labour can report cases of corruption and negligence at a health facility,” Opendi said.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, while chairing the House implored the Minister of Health to make a statement on how to improve maternal mortality.
“It is sad that in this day and era an expectant mother is asked for gloves, cotton wool or even a maama kit. Why are you making child bearing difficult for the citizens? Why are you denying us a chance to reproduce? I implore the Minister of Health, who is a mother and knows the pain of giving birth to present a report in two week times,” Among said.