By Abdulkarim Ssengendo, Chris Ahimbisibwe and Fred Turyakira
MATERNAL deaths could be due to corruption in hospitals where doctors steal government drugs, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
â€œThere is still a problem of maternal mortality. I am aware of it but I have not studied it thoroughly. I will take time during my country tour to study it,â€ he said yesterday.
â€œI may attribute the problem to doctors who are stealing drugs but it could be corruption in hospitals. I have established a team in my office to arrest these culprits,â€ he said during the celebrations to mark the international Womenâ€™s Day in Bushenyi district.
Museveni said the problem may also be due to cultural factors where some communities prevent women from delivering in hospitals.
The President was accompanied by his wife, Janet, who is the Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs and MP for Ruhama County.
Earlier, the gender state minister, Lukia Nakadama, said maternal mortality remains a big problem that needed to be tackled urgently.
She urged the President to lobby for more women to take up jobs in the regional and international institutions.
According to the Uganda demographic health survey of 2006, about 6,000 women die annually. There are 435 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Museveni said following the Governmentâ€™s intervention, the enrollment of girls aged six to 12 years in primary school had increased to 82%. The enrollment of boys of the same age stands at 83%.
The President, however, said about 18% of the children were not in school because their parents were not bothered.
He noted that in January, 50.4% of the graduands and 55.6% of the diploma holders at Makerere University were female.
â€œThe Bible says we shall know them by their fruits. We have many talkers but we have truth on ground to show the improvement we have moved and whoever wants should go touch and feel it,â€ Museveni said.
He noted that with the adult literacy programme in place, many women had joined school and female instructors had also increased.
Museveni said the Government had introduced programmes to improve women literacy, self-confidence, health and enhance their ability to manage businesses. He added that the infant mortality rate had reduced to 75% from over 120% in 1986.
The President vowed to deal with doctors who delay immunisation programmes. He observed that most of the beneficiaries of agricultural programmes were women since they are more involved in farming than men.
With the provision of safe water to every village, Museveni said women were the most beneficiaries since they used to move long distances to fetch water in wells.
The President noted that more women were taking up leadership roles. He cited the example of 13 constituencies in Parliament which are represented by women and the 80 seats allocated to women at district level.
He said the Government plans to provide every village with machines for grinding millet.
Museveni added that the Government will also give women modern cooking stoves to save them from moving long distances in search of firewood.
The Bushenyi Woman MP, Mary Karooro Okurut, thanked the President for supporting women.