Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Health Minister Reassures Medical Workers of Improved Welfare

 Minister of Health-General Duties Hon Dr Chris Baryomunsi (on podium) addressing members of White Ribbon Alliance  Uganda during the Annual General Members' Meeting at Statistics House, Kampala

By Njaleruma Kigozi,
Citizen Journalist, 
The White Ribbon Alliance Uganda
Buikwe District

State Minister for Health General Duties, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi reaffirmed the Uganda Government’s commitment to improve the welfare of medical workers in the country.
Baryomunsi was addressing members of White Ribbon Alliance Uganda (WRA- Ug)—a non government organization, advocating for safe motherhood and a nation free of newborns deaths, at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Statistics House in Kampala on Friday 27th March, 2015.

Baryomunsi, who was the Guest of Honour at the event, said that an increase in negligence of duty and carelessness by medical workers in government health centers and hospitals across the country has been identified as a major cause of loss of lives, mostly of pregnant mothers and newborns during pregnancy and birth.

He said that such a situation has been blamed on the usual complaints that medical workers in the country get little pay and a raw deal from the central government that employs them, compared to their counterparts in other countries where their services are equally needed. “They can only be held responsible in terms of service delivery to the pregnant mothers and other citizens in the country only when the people who handle life at our health centers enjoy a better pay and a competitive welfare” he added.

Knowing very well that childbirth is still a death trap in Uganda, claiming the lives of 17 women and 106 newborns every day, the Minister said that the problem can only be partly tackled by improving the welfare of government workers, including medical workers, and that they are prepared to fulfill this obligation.

Baryomunsi also revealed that his ministry was in preparation to send senior officials to health centers around the country to reassure medical workers that the central government has big plans in store for them, particularly in improving their working conditions. This is aimed at changing their attitude towards work.

The White Ribbon Alliance Board of Directors Chairperson Mr. Obed Kabanda told the gathering that WRA-Ug has dedicated a dynamic advocacy campaign, “Act Now to Save Mothers,” to hold the government accountable to its commitment to ensure that women have access to life-saving care.
He emphasized the need for the central government to provide Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC).  “Take this as a priority intervention to reduce maternal and newborns deaths in Uganda,” Kabanda said.

Lira District Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Joy Atim Ongom, who also attended the AGM, strongly attacked men in her area of jurisdiction who spend money and time in bars drinking alcohol, whilst women they make pregnant are languishing with the pregnancies in their households with little or no financial help and care. She called them irresponsible husbands.

L-R: Lira District Woman MP-Hon Joy Atim Ongom, Hon Dr Chris Baryomunsi-Minister of Health (General Duties) and Mr. Obed Kabanda-Chairperson BoD White Ribbon Alliance Uganda

“Some men in Lira, like in any other district in Uganda, not only neglect their pregnant wives during pregnancy and at the time of delivery but go on to mount them forcefully at night for sex even when they are not in the mood,” Hon. Atim said and added that such occurrences add salt to the already dangerous wound/ situations pregnant mothers are going through. She called on men to be responsible and take lead in saving the lives of women they impregnate.

Ms Robinah Biteyi, the National Coordinator WRA-Ug reminded the gathering that women and newborns die from preventable and treatable complications that include, severe breeding (heamorrhage), infection (sepsis), eclampsia (high blood pressure), obstructed labor, unsafe abortions and asphyxias. She added that the causes are worsened by lack of or inadequate emergency obstetric and newborns care equipment/device, medicine and health supplies, skilled staff, especially with midwifery skills and resources necessary to provide quality life saving care in order to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

“Those are the things the government can provide in time without being hoaxed or pressurized if our mothers and newborns can see light even for another day,” Biteyi said.
She suggested that the government should ensure that there are more health centre IIIs and IVs providing Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) and more health center IIIs and IVs with adequate medicine, health supplies, equipment and skilled staff to provide EmONC services. She added that community members should demand EMONC at HC IIIs and IVs, more women should be delivering at health centers and that there should strong linkages between the formal health system and the community. Biteyi said the government should involve citizens in setting their health priorities.

In her closing remarks, the Woman Member of Parliament for Kabale District Hon. Rhona Ninsiima reminded the people of Uganda to hold the government accountable to its commitment to ensure that women have access to life saving care. She called on citizens to always sign petitions asking on their members of Parliament, district and sub county leaders to allocate sufficient funds to provide medicines, health supplies, equipment and skilled staff to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns at their local health centers.

The participants at the AGM asked the government to provide a motivation package for health workers and to functionalize operating theatres by allocating sufficient funds to renovate and equip them.