By Francis Kagolo
Midwives and other health personnel who sell government-procured mama kits to mothers have been advised to stop the vice else they will be arrested.
The state minister for health, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, partly blamed the practice for the high maternal deaths in the country, saying that it will not be tolerated.
The maternal health indicators for Uganda have generally remained poor. Over the years, maternal mortality has stagnated at about 435 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“The ministry provides free mama kits to 700,000 expectant mothers out of the 1.2 million women who conceive each year. Why would anyone sell these kits? That is illegal and they are going to be arrested,” he warned.
Speaking at a meeting with Shanti Uganda, a Luweero-based maternal health NGO on Wednesday, the minister urged mothers who are asked to buy mama kits in public health facilities to report to Police.
During the meeting at Umoja House in Kampala, Stanbic Bank handed over a sh33.6m donation to Shanti for the construction of a maternity centre in Luweero.
The kit includes 500 grams of cotton wool, baby soap, two razor blades, two polythene sheets, two gauze pieces, three surgical gloves, and an immunization card.
Each kit as per the National Medical Stores (NMS) rate costs about sh18,000 but it can go up to over sh30,000 on the open market.
Government last year allocated sh24b towards the improvement of maternal health in addition to a $130million (Shs390b) loan from the World Bank for the same.
The minister’s concern follows reports that a number of mothers had to part with some money for mama kits even when going to deliver in public facilities.
The country a long way from achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal death by three quarters and improved access to reproductive health services by 2015.
To meet the MDG target, Uganda needs to reduce its mortality rate from 435 to 131 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.
Tumwesigye said improving access to mama kits can go a long way in curbing maternal deaths.
“The money we are using to procure these mama kits is part of the loan the Government got from the World Bank. Those who sell mama kits are not patriotic and we are going to find a way of fighting them,” the minister said.
The minister also warned against moves to legalise abortion, saying it is unethical.