According to the March 2021 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report, maternal mortality rate dropped from 438 deaths per 100,000 births to 368 deaths per 100,000 in 2021.
The increased deaths were a result of underlying conditions like abortion complications, bleeding after birth, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, Malaria, ineffective service by health Professionals, limited personnel in facilities, inadequate supply of essential commodities.
Despite the steady decline which began from 2000 onwards, the rate of maternal mortality in Uganda is still far above the global average, which was 152 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 thus demanding for effective redress.
The continuing threat has led to intervention of expertise from White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), a global movement that seeks to advance reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights to partner with various maternal health stake holders in Rubaga Division forming a Task force that seeks to examine missing gaps in ensuring respectful maternal health care.
The ten member task force; two VHTs, representatives from Buganda Kingdom, Inter Religious Council, People with Disabilities (PWDs), Rubaga Community Development Officer, two Rubaga Youth Councilors among others seeks to give an informed consent of barriers to respectful maternal care, determine key recommendations so as to raise issues to the right people for redress.
While officiating the launch of the task force, Rubaga Division Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RCC), Herbert Anderson Burora, urged the public to account for quality health services as it will partly bridge the gaps of missing efforts in public facilities. He said the health facilities were put in place to serve the public not the government and civil society organizations.
“We major in minors and minor in majors yet at the end point of it government is you and I, once we improve our spaces we all take the credit and well it’s good to point out what is wrong and what should be done,” he said.
The RCC further justified the need of improving the physiological life of health professionals citing that for any behavior change of a health professional, there’s something they be going through behind closed doors. In this regard, he urges that monitoring and counselling is key.
“I am more interested in the organization that is working towards improving the physiological part of the health worker. if this person is not concentrating, they will not give you the best and if we build this pressure around them without considering what they are going through, we are also at the same time not doing our work, we must find space of understanding what they are going through,” emphasized Burola
In the same regard, Burora retaliated the common practice amongst people of thinking service providers are professionals bound not to do mistakes thus urging that their lives too must be improved
“Let’s not castigate much these people but also we should make recommendations on how we can improve their working conditions,” he said.
Sister Dr. Grace Nanyondo, the Rubaga Hospital Medical Director emphasized the need for motivational privileges to health professionals as a key essence of improving quality service and approach to patients
“Salary alone is not enough, we have so much dealt with patient approach but some do it only in our presence and when we’re away they drop the initiative, we must seek for these motivational offers,” she said.
Zawedde Lugolobi, a Buganda Kingdom principal Health Officer also emphasized the need for improving the providers-mothers relations.
“The quality of approach is still demanding and whenever it’s poor, women will fear approaching professionals and in the regard, they will end up going to unrealistic centers where they are mismanaged,” she said.
She also emphasized the need to prioritize communication skills under the health department curriculum so that behaviors of health providers are transformed.
Meanwhile, Rubaga Division Mayor Zack Mberaze pledged effective support to the task force and relevant stake holders towards the health improvement.
He however, faulted government for back tracking on her mandate of providing quality health care and instead rely on civil society organizations
“The RCC confessing that there are key gaps is an indicator that as government they have failed on our people and we now look forward to a new government that will ensure quality health services for our people,” he said.
Sister Agilong Dorothy, the In charge of Kawaala Health Centre iv cited the need for privacy which seems to be much lacking more so in public facilities.
“Privacy is something we were trained right from the word go but we realize that we compromise a little over limited space but still we must ensure privacy and confidentiality amidst the limited spaces as we urge for wide spaces,” she said.
She further urged for emphasis on respect and dignity other than being tightened to the old days where mothers must not even involved decision making on what is convenient for them.
“In our course of daily maternal and antenatal care, we must push for a friendly approach, we think if we can friendlily attract our mothers from first visits, we can plan together and also plan on how to ensure safe delivery,” she justified.
She however said their (health professionals) hands are only tied to institutional challenges citing however hindrance of not being permitted powers of making emmediate decisions.
“We could do anything to keep changing these gaps but there are things that you can’t change there and then and one of them is the limited space, I want to tell you that it’s over whelming, however, we’re trying to make it move,” she said.