I would like to applaud the call by Isingiro district woman MP, Grace Byarugaba, for pregnant women to visit health centres. The message for women to attend antenatal and post natal care clinics should be embraced by all, especially those that command lar
I would like to applaud the call by Isingiro district woman MP, Grace Byarugaba, for pregnant women to visit health centres (The New Vision, September 29).
The message for women to attend antenatal and post natal care clinics should be embraced by all, especially those that command large gatherings like MPs and faith leaders in the churches and mosques.
Antenatal care refers to visits made by women prior to delivery, and post-natal care is for care after delivery regardless of whether it is a live birth, a miscarriage, or stillborn.
It is a pity that many women shun hospitals, or simply go there for the first visit to â€œpick a cardâ€ just in case of an emergency. This becomes a disservice to oneself, the baby, and the people who are left behind after one is dead, or those who have to bear the costs of any disability that would have been avoided.
The maternal and infant mortality rates that we are battling in Africa are a result of lack of commitment to resolve the problem.
Most of the causes of death of women and babies are avoidable. Uganda is known for her high maternal mortality ratio that stands at a high 435 deaths per 100,000 live births and an infant mortality rate of 88 per 1,000 live births.
There is an improvement in the maternal mortality ratio given that for a decade it stood at 505 deaths per 100,000 live births. But when translated to real numbers many women are still dying. No woman should die or be harmed by a pregnancy.
This is why each one of us has a responsibility to complement Governmentâ€™s efforts, and push for safe motherhood beginning with antenatal care visits.
The World Health Organisation recommends four focused visits for pregnant women. Each visit focuses on specific aspects of the pregnancy. If one goes only for the first visit for example, who ensures that they get the malaria prophylaxis, the tetanus toxoid, their folate, besides detecting and avoiding any risk associated to the pregnancy?
It is documented that 15% of all pregnancies will result into a complication. Whereas there are some clear cut risk factors like age, history of blood pressure, history of haemorrhage (bleeding), no one can predict what pregnancy will result into a complication.
Once the delivery is done, the visits are not over. Post natal care comes in and every mother should get this care. Educated women are also prone for failing to turn up for the post natal visit and yet, a number of complications that lead to the motherâ€™s death occur within the first week after delivery.
Out of ignorance a woman with a fever might opt to go over the counter to get malaria tablets, yet the fever might be pointing to an infection. Such fevers are not for personal diagnosis. Babies should also not die simply because they were exposed to an infection of a visitor who could not wash their hands before carrying the baby.
With an emergence of a fever, some mothers and caretakers might decide to give the baby a drug picked over the counter.
Dr. Olive Ssentumbwe-Mugisa emphasises that once you detect a fever in a mother or baby, come rain, come sunshine rush to a health facility.
My call is to faith leaders to embrace antenatal and post-natal care messaging as part of the package for counselling â€” this messaging should be for both â€” women and their partners.
As we play our part, the Government should also come up with clear mechanisms of ensuring that skilled staff are in the health facilities. The recent survey by The New Vision to select health facilities was so revealing of the gaps that need to be filled.
The writer is the health and HIV monitoring and evaluation specialist, World Vision International, Africa region
Most causes of mothersâ€™ deaths are avoidable