The participants were sensitised about the risk factors associated with pregnancy from conception, during delivery and after.
At least more than 800 pregnant women from Kyotera, Lwengo and Rakai districts gathered at Bethlehem Community Hospital in Beteremu village, Kasaali sub-county to get free prenatal care services.
Prenatal care is also known as antenatal care and involves preventing potential health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy.
The programme was a partnership of hospital management and USA-based mastercares ministries. The women received free mama-kits and ultrasound scans, and healthcare packages.
The participants were sensitised about the risk factors associated with pregnancy from conception, during delivery and after. Other pieces of training included family planning, breastfeeding, good feeding and how to reduce fistula cases.
According to Dr. Emmanuel Ssentongo Lugwana, the hospital director, the different Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and health professionals were invited to chat a way forward in helping pregnant women ensure the safe delivery of their babies.
Lugwana said the forum followed the increasing challenges in maternal health especially in remote communities whereby it takes women over 30km to reach a health facility so as to have surgery hence some die.
He explained that they receive between two and five pregnant women in critical condition every week which implies a wide information gap among the women and men in these communities.
And when they die shortly after reaching the hospital, Lugwana argued that the public blames the doctors for neglecting them.
"TBAs are the main managers of pregnant mothers, specially in the rural communities. And they arrive at our hospital with severe complications," he explained.
He added that when the pregnancy is complicated, a TBA will not manage to get the diagnosis but to pull the baby hence severe bleeding after has mother sustained a tear.
Dr. Jerome Tamale, the medical superintendent, said difficult deliveries have led to the increasing cases of cerebral palsy especially in the remote communities of the border communities.
He said pregnant women delay to go for maternal care yet during the deliveries they lack a plan. "Women lack a delivery plan, delivery kits (mama-kits), they lack transportation to the health facilities yet men are not involved in the process, he said.
According to Tamale, it is important for both mother and father to organise and decide on the delivery plan, that is to say, the mode of the transport to a facility where they are supposed to go for successful delivery with the safe outcome without birth injury.
"We are not ruling out the fact that pregnant women in remote communities will still visit TBAs. But we want our sisters (TBAs) to understand the matter of urgency. They should advise and refer cases beyond their control to health centres or hospitals," he said.
Tamale further advised women to be keen about the danger signs in pregnancy including any bleeding, vomiting beyond 12 weeks, fever/malaria, lower limbs swelling and leakage of fluid. He urged them to go to a doctor for consultation and treatment before it's too late.
Although the ministry of health guidelines bar TBA services, Dr Edward Muwanga, the District Health Officer (DHO), said it is inevitable in remote communities where access to health services is low.
He said majority of women lack the resources to enable them to seek the prenatal services from health centres and hospitals. "And for that reason, the TBAs become their main handlers yet they are not skilled which leads to fistula cases among other severe complications," he noted.
Muwanga said by the time pregnant women with complications reach Kalisizo Hospital it is too late to save them.
Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the Kyotera Local Council (LC5) chairperson, s aid the Bethlehem Hospital administrators wrote to the district seeking personnel support to help different communities.
He appealed to men to always support and accompany their wives throughout the course of pregnancy. He added that the district has proposed to offer a refrigerator to enable the hospital to keep vaccines for children's immunisation.
Candace Priest, who led a delegation of health workers from Texas, said the one-day prenatal conference was necessary for all pregnant women and the local leaders in different communities.
"We got a vaccine refrigerator to keep vaccines and enable immunisation of children against measles, polio and tetanus. We will be reviewing next year whether the conference helped to reduce the infant mortality," she said.
She advised the mothers and husbands who seek attention from TBAs not to wait when things go wrong. She said they should find a way of reaching the hospital for appropriate medical attention.
Winnie Nabateregga one of the participants said there are several lessons she has leant from the conference including a well-planned delivery, being prepared at all the times, consulting a doctor whenever danger signs appear, a good diet, and how to handle her baby after birth.