By Anne Mugisa
Maternal mortality rates have risen again to 438 mothers per 100,000 live births instead of dropping further, making the targeted 131 deaths per 100,000 by 2015 a distant dream.
Acting director of the population secretariat Charles Zirarema said the numbers of mothers dying from the mostly preventable pregnancy-related causes had dropped to 435 per 100,000 by 2006, but disturbing trends show they are rising.
Zirarema was yesterday speaking at the first public dialogue in Kampala organised by the secretariat to discuss the startling developments, with stakeholders including MPs.
The news comes only two years to the end of the 15-year period set by the UN for developing countries to have reduced maternal and child deaths to the set goals.
Reduction of maternal deaths is Millennium Development Goal number 5.
According to Zirarema, excessive bleeding is the leading cause of deaths.
Zirarema said 37% of Ugandan women are anaemic (don’t have adequate blood) and over-bleeding in child birth compounds the situation, leading to their deaths.
The women, he said, are also having many and frequent births and shunning family planning services.
According to Dr. Olive Ssentumbwe Mugisa, the World Health Organisation adviser on maternal service delivery in Uganda, the reasons for maternal deaths are delays.
She described these as delays by the women at an individual level, delays at making timely decisions on life-threatening situations, delays at the family and community levels, delay at accessing services as well as delay at the health unit to implement the necessary interventions.
The others, she added, are lack of appropriate skills by the service providers, lack of facilities and failure to make appropriate decisions.
According to her, maternal and prenatal complications account for 20% of Uganda’s overall disease burden.
Ssentumbwe pointed out that family planning would reduce mothers’ deaths by about 30%, reduce abortions and adolescent pregnancies, improve women’s health and by implication, the health of entire families.
She said in Uganda, abortion-related complications are one of the leading causes of admissions to gynecological wards where 85,000 women are treated for complication yearly, translating to 10 every hour.
Ssentumbwe said 300,000 abortions are performed every year – nearly 800 daily – with complications arising from it costing the Government about sh7.5b annually in treatment.
Maternal mortality rate rises