The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among has said the Government should prioritize maternal health care to reduce infant mortality and the risk of mothers dying while in labor.
She said childbearing should not be a burden to the population therefore Government should take action.
Among made the statement during a plenary session discussing the maternal health status in the country.
She said we can not have a functional state when its citizens can not enjoy their reproductive rights.
“Currently when you look at expectant mothers who visit public hospitals, the hospitals still ask that the mothers avail themselves with the basic delivery needs like gloves, plasters, cotton wool, and the delivery kits which is a shame to the nation,” said Among.
She informed the House that most hospitals don’t have enough medical personnel and those that do, are not adequately equipped to handle deliveries which put these mothers’ lives at risk. A probable reason why women opt or continue to deliver in the hands of the Traditional Birth Attendants who were outlawed in 2005.
” Women have resorted to giving birth at home, the hospitals are not equipped, other women who are pregnant end up giving birth on the way. MPs have become purchasers of ambulances.”- Among said
Tororo Woman MP, Sarah Opendi presented a statement on behalf of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) on the escalating cases of maternal health in the country.
Opendi acknowledged that indeed Uganda has made some progress on maternal health but that the rate is still very high when compared to other African countries.
Currently, the maternal mortality rate stands at 336 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births as per the UDHS 2016 (Uganda Demographic Health Survey).
She said the most common direct causes of maternal death were and still remain; excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) contributing 42% and 90% is postpartum hemorrhage, unsafe abortions, especially among the young women, is at 22%, obstructed labor leading to rupture of the uterus. Other indirect causes were anemia, malaria, and heart disease among others.
She added that many mothers lost their lives during the COVID19 lockdown, and still continue to die in health facilities due to negligence and corrupt practices by some health workers who ask the expectant mothers to pay for delivery supplies and theatre fees in public hospitals.
Opendi also informed the House that teenage pregnancies also contribute to maternal deaths in the country representing 17%. She said the high teenage pregnancies in the country will be a challenge to reducing maternal mortality if Government and the Ministry of Health do not intervene.
According to UNICEF, 25 percent of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually are in adolescent girls, with more than 300,000 pregnancies ending in unsafe abortions.
She asked the authorities to ensure that there is facility readiness to deliver these young mothers with dignity and the necessary supplies including the availability of the health workers.
Opendi called on Government to meet its constitutional obligation to uphold the rights of women and fulfill their reproductive rights. She asked that Government prioritizes maternal health and provides sufficient resources in the next financial year to address issues of maternal mortality.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, I know if everybody did his/her bit we can actually end this maternal mortality. And we are going to celebrate International Women’s Day, some women are not with us because they lost their lives. Hon. Speaker let us ensure that as we move from this Women’s Day to the next, we see a complete reduction in this maternal mortality.”- She said.
Among asked why women are being denied their right to reproduce and yet even the Bible states that we should go out there and reproduce. She gave the Minister of Health two weeks to present a statement on Government’s efforts to mitigate maternal mortality. She also asked the Minister to present the monetary budgetary requirements needed for those efforts.