PARLIAMENT: Legislators have tasked the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to ensure adequate financing for maternal health as a way of averting the escalating maternal mortality.
This was contained in a petition from the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) presented by Tororo District Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Sarah Opendi on Thursday, 25 May 2023.
Opendi who is also the chairperson of UWOPA said that the maternal mortality rate in Uganda is 336 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births as per the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey.
“That the government’s omission to adequately provide basic maternal health care services in public health facilities violates the right to health and is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 8A, 39 and 45 read together with objectives XIV and XX of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution,” Opendi said.
She added that in order to meet the constitutional obligation of the state to uphold the right of women and fulfil their reproductive rights, the government should prioritise and provide sufficient funds in the national budget for maternal healthcare.
“The government through the minister responsible for health should ensure that all the staff who provide maternal health care services in Uganda are fully trained and all health centres are fully equipped,” said Opendi.
She also called for setting up of dedicated hotlines where women in labour can report all cases of corruption and negligence at health facilities.
“We have seen an increase of C-section births. Mothers used to give birth normally and C-section was the last option but now it is a business that every mother must be operated and motivation is that you must pay. Health workers demand for money and if you do not have it, your patient will die,” Opendi said.
Hon. Christine Kaaya (Kiboga District) said there is a tendency of medical personnel to hurriedly attend to women who go to hospital with their husbands. But many women these days are left to toil for themselves.
“Medical personnel need to do their work regardless of whether I have come [to the hospital] with the father of the baby or not so that we reduce maternal deaths,” Kaaya said
Hon. Gorreth Namugga (NUP, Mawogola County South) said that tackling maternal mortality starts with adequate budgeting for the health sector.
“The health budget should never be cut. We can compromise on other areas, but not health,” said Namugga.
Hon. Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam District) asked government to look into equipping health centres with basic supplies.
“Health centres lack supplies, including gloves. Doctors cannot be comfortable to attend to patients without gloves. Health centre IIs and IIIs do not have CT scans and X-rays and yet at the end of month, over 1,000 mothers visit these health facilities,” Alum said.
Hon. Paul Akamba, (NRM, Busiki County) argued that tackling maternal mortality requires a holistic approach which should include the entire health system.
During the Wednesday, 24 May 2023 sitting, Hon. Atkins Katusabe (FDC, Bukonjo County West) made a call to the Ministry of Health as a matter of national importance to address the escalating cases of maternal mortality in the country.
He said that the situation in Kasese District is worrying, with mothers dying while giving birth every day.
According to a 2021 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the maternal mortality rate in women aged 15-49 is 368 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Source: Parliament of Uganda