By HENRY SEKANJAKO
UGANDA urgently needs 2,000 midwives to provide antenatal care countrywide.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday at the Media Centre in Kampala, the assistant commissioner Ministry of Health, Paul Kaggwa, said the quality of maternal and newborn care is low because inadequate midwives. According to statistics, at least 14 women die in labour in Uganda daily.
According to the Human Resource for Health Report, Uganda has one midwife for every 5,000 mothers. But the World Health Organisation recommends two midwives per mother in labour.
Irene Akena, a midwifery adviser in the health ministry, said Uganda has only 2,900 midwives in government health facilities.
Kaggwa attributed the shortage of midwives to some districts failing to recruit the right number of midwives. He added that the Ministry of Health is working with development partners to address the urgent need for health workers, especially midwives.
â€œWe are considering training more midwives. We want to review the midwifery curriculum and equipping midwifery colleges,â€ he said.
Kaggwa added that the ministry will also work with partners to provide scholarships for midwives for selected hard-to-reach districts.
He noted that maternal- mortality ratio declined between 1995 and 2006 from 506 to 435 deaths per 100,000 live births.
â€œThis maternal mortality ratio translates to about 6,000 women dying every year from pregnancy-related causes, which is not acceptable,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund Representative to Uganda, Janet Jackson, noted that if a skilled midwife attended to every birth, maternal deaths would reduce by up to 90%.
â€œMidwives are important in the care of newborns (that contribute up to 40% of infant death), which determines to a large extent child survival in the first year of life,â€ she said.