On Saturday July 2, yet another woman dies â€” cause of death: childbirth related complications. Dr Cecilia Achadu, the only female cardiologist passed way after undergoing an operation for a noble job indeed â€” bringing a child into this world! Uganda has only lost the only female cardiologist at only 33 years of age. The baby has also been deprived of the opportunity to be raised by its biological mother, and the husband deprived of a companion. What a pity! Well, for many, this is a usual occurrence â€” women dying as a result of childbirth related complications. One starts pondering why has the maternal mortality remained persistently high? Uganda has not been able to save the lives of the hundreds of women that die each year which stands at an average of 505 out of 100,000 live births.
This actually reminds me of a similar experience that I underwent last year when I needed an emergency caesarean operation. I had to wait for 15 long hours until I could undergo the operation which put a serious risk on my life and that of the seven month old foetus that had to come to this world prematurely. The causes of the delay â€” unavailability of blood in hospital and in the Blood Bank to enable me go for the operation successful. Thank goodness, my personal doctor spent the whole night and part of the day combing all hospitals just to secure 6 units of blood that I badly needed to have the operation done. And sincerely by the time I was taken into theatre, I was so anaemic that I couldnâ€™t feel part of my body. Maternal mortality is a serious issue that affects all women irrespective of status, ethnic background, education, etc.
High maternal mortality in this country is as a result of avoidable causes such as bleeding, unsafe abortions, delivery under untrained personnel, low quality antenatal and postnatal care among others. Sincerely, these are things within our control and which government should seriously address. The fact that women have been dying for many years says a lot about the will to address real issues and concerns of women. One of such is the fact that emancipating women is still far away within our sight and that the status of women in this country is still low. Why else wouldnâ€™t the concerned stakeholders not come out to address the problem many years ago?
Many times, women are seen as being ungrateful for all they have achieved through the years, but still if some of their fundamental needs such as health and reproductive rights have not been adequately addressed, then emancipation becomes a dream. Yes, we have the numbers in politics, education and the voices are now heard but emancipation goes beyond that to address other practical and strategic needs. Having a healthy women population is advantageous for the development of the whole society due to the role that women play. With the current state of affairs, one wonders whether health and reproductive rights are part of the mainstream agenda or not. There is increasing concern that the healthcare package for women in Uganda is highly lacking. Why arenâ€™t the appalling statistics translated into real interventions to decrease such high numbers of gallant women dying?
For women, they would want to see an improvement in the quality of antenatal and postnatal services. All they are requesting for is to make maternal reproductive health, maternal and paediatric care a priority. Women need a better heath package that will assure them that they will not die while having babies. What women are saying is that they should not be punished for having been born women, having physiological organs that dictate bearing the burden of childbirth. They are just doing a job for this country. So as citizens of Uganda, we want to be assisted to do the noble job better, not to be punished.
To the family of my late sister Dr Cecilia Achadu, we hope the wounds will heal and that one day maternal mortality in this country will be an issue of serious national debate and action. It is a pity that we have lost Cecilia and will lose 504 per 100,000 other women this year like we have in the past and not many seem bothered.
The writer is the coordinator, Uganda Womenâ€™s Network (UWONET)