By Taddeo Bwambale
A group of over 50 organisations in Uganda have renewed their drive to end the high maternal and newborn deaths.
The campaign follows a rise in the maternal and neonatal mortality rates, hardly a year after studies showed Uganda had made progress.
Uganda’s maternal mortality rate dropped to 310 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, from 435 deaths in 2006, according to a World Health Organisation report released earlier this year.
However, a recent report Population Secretariat shows that maternal mortality rates have risen again to 438 mothers per 100,000 live births.
Although infant mortality (death of children under the age of five) has reduced, neonatal mortality rate (rate of deaths of born babies within 28 days) accounts for 40% of infant deaths.
Speaking at a media meeting at Imperial Royale in Kampala, activists under the ‘Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality in Uganda’ vowed to intensify their drive to end the deaths.
“Most of the deaths are preventable and partly result from inadequate investment in emergency care,” said Robinah Biteyi, of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
At least 17 mothers and 106 newborns die every day in Uganda.
With hardly two years left to 2015, the activists are confident Uganda can meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 of reducing of maternal deaths, by investing in emergency services.
“Uganda has the potential to reach that target with the right health workers and commitment to the goal,” said Asia Russel of the Health Global Access Project, one of the campaign partners.
The activists said want Government to increase its share of funding for health, to cater for recruitment of health workers. The activists will next week launch a Global Day of Action.
Dennis Odwe, the executive director of the Action Group for Health, Human rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA), said low staffing in health centres was affecting maternal health.
Statistics show that one midwife serves 11,000 women in Uganda. Last year, Government earmarked sh49b for recruitment of 7,000, increasing the staffing levels from 58% to 63%.
Francis Ntalazi, the assistant commissioner for human resources in the health ministry said the challenge faced by Government was attracting and retaining health workers due to low pay and working conditions.