By Umaru Kashaka
Publish Date: Aug 08, 2013
KAMPALA - A coalition of over 40 civil society organizations, united in the fight against preventable maternal and child mortality in Uganda, mid-this week petitioned Speaker Rebecca Kadaga over the crisis of maternal deaths in the country.
Samuel Senfuka presented the petition in the Speaker’s boardroom on behalf of the coalition before holding a vigil of prayer within Parliament for the late Remmie Wamala, a victim of maternal death.
Senfuka, from White Ribbon Alliance, called on Parliament to show its commitment to correcting the crisis through concrete action of increasing investment of sh43.5bn in wages for midwives and other critical cadres.
“We congratulate you for prioritizing health workers in last year's budget through sh49.5bn investment in the recruitment exercise that has deployed thousands of new health workers to health centers IIIs and IVs,” he said.
But he was quick to add: “But Parliament’s work is not done. Without sh43.5bn to enhance pay at local gov’t health facilities, these health workers will simply give up, leading to massive societal and financial waste.”
We must not allow Wamala’s death to be in vain or the thousands of other Ugandan women who, like Wamala, die preventable deaths while giving birth, he pointed out.
Wamala, who was the coordinator of the Uganda parliamentary forum for children, died recently while giving birth at International Hospital Kampala (IHK) of excessive bleeding and a ruptured uterus.
Her death brought into sharp focus the issue of maternal mortality in the country.
Senfuka said the financial year 2013/2014 budget should prioritize wage enhancement for midwives and other health workers, improve oversight of healthcare, and expand pre-service training for health workers.
“Some of our health facilities are becoming no-go zones for pregnant women and the ultimate responsibility of monitoring them by the health ministry is too weak,” said Mable Kukunda of Uganda National Health Users'/Consumers' Organisation (UNHCO).
The petitioners called on the Legislature to intervene and impose a system of strict oversight so that preventable deaths trigger urgent investigation and action.
“And maternal death audits result in policy change rather than merely reports that sit on shelves,” Kukunda added.
The coalition also called for expansion of pre-service training for health workers in scarce supply, including midwives, lab anesthetists and the public health nurses over the next three years.
This, they reasoned, would enable the health workers offer maternal health services within their health facilities while additional midwives are produced in their training institutions.