'Sometimes mothers reach health centre III late, yet they are supposed to be referred to the next level where there is a doctor to perform a Caesarean Section'
PIC: Opendi hands over a dummy baby to UNFPA country representative during the International Midwives Day in Jinja last week. (Credit: Agnes Kyotalengerire)
JINJA- The state minister of health for general duties, Sarah Opendi, has urged pregnant women to always report to health facilities early for delivery.
The habit of delaying, according to Opendi, is partly to blame for the daunting statistics of maternal deaths in the country. She said this while attending the International Midwives Day last week in Jinja.
"Often, we blame our health workers, but the problem lies with the mothers and their unsupportive husbands who do not take them to health facilities in time. Sometimes mothers reach health centre III late, yet they are supposed to be referred to the next level where there is a doctor to perform a Caesarean Section. By the time the mother is moved from the lower facility to the next level, it is too late to save her life," Opendi said.
Alain Sibenaler, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, said having a skilled professional at birth protects the life of the mother and the child by recognising problems early. At this point, the situation can be controlled and intervention sought quickly.
Opendi added: Some mothers go to the health facilities for antenatal care once or twice and then wait for delivery. This poses a challenge. How can they be helped in case a complication comes up?
"If you are already failing to go for the four antenatal care visits, what is going to happen now that WHO recommends eight visits? Opendi asked.
The Uganda Health Demographic Survey 2016 indicates that the national figure for the 4th antenatal care visit stands at 59.9%. This means 40% of pregnant women do not attend all the required antenatal care visits.
Uganda's state of maternal mortality
Although the maternal mortality death rate has come down from 438 per 100,000 live births in 2011 to 336 per 100,000 live births in 2016, Opendi said it is still unacceptably high. No mother should die while giving birth and this should be our focus, she warned.