MUCH as Ugandaâ€™s maternal and infantsâ€™ health have improved, medical professionals are worried that the country is still far from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come 2015.
These include reducing infant mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by three quarters.
MDGs are the eight points that 189 United Nations states have agreed to try to achieve by 2015.
Maternal mortality is the ratio of women who die from pregnancy and child-related causes, measured against every 100,000 live births, while child mortality is the number of children out of every 1,000 born, who die before their fifth birthday.
Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health are the fourth and fifth MDGs, respectively. Consequently, the Uganda Medical Association and the Association of
Gynaecologists/Obstetricians of Uganda have organised a three-day conference and general meeting to forge strategies in achieving the targets.
The three-day meet with the theme, Reducing maternal and child mortality, will run from Wednesday to Friday this week in Mbarara. Healthcare professionals, civic leaders, development partners and religious leaders will attend.
â€œTackling maternal and infant health needs a multi-sectoral approach. We need everybody on board because most causes of the deaths are preventable and can be addressed through quality health services,â€ Dr Daniel Zaake, one of the organisers says.
Ugandaâ€™s maternal mortality rate decreased from 505 per 100,000 births in 2001 to 435 per 100,000 in 2006 and infant mortality from 156 per 1,000 in 2001 to 136 in 2006, but the medics are concerned that causes of the deaths remain the same.
â€œThe direct causes of maternal deaths over 20 years have remained the same: bleeding (25%), abortion complications (15-20%), infection after delivery (15-18%) and complications of obstructed labour (15%),â€ Zaake adds.
Dr. Sarah Naikoba, the programme manager of Saving New Born Lives, Save the Children, says death of infants below 28 days has remained the major cause of child deaths contributing to 40% of those who die below five years.
â€œMalnutrition is a contributing factor in over half of the deaths, which makes the infants vulnerable to infections like diarrhoea, malaria and HIV,â€ she explains.
â€œIf a mother died because there was no doctor, or if a child died of failure to breath at birth because there was no bag and mask, these factors must be recorded.
It would help us plan and prioritise certain areas, but health workers think the records will be used in determining punitive measures,â€ Zaake says.
Infant, maternal deaths still high