UGANDA: Maternal and Infant Mortality

Every year, more than one million children are left motherless and vulnerable because of maternal death. (Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010)

Uganda’s Maternal Mortalilty Ratio (MMR) had remained high for 15 years, with no significant decline.  The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey of 2006 registered a modest decline from 505 to 435 deaths per 100,000 live births.  This Maternal Mortality Ratio translates to about 6,000 women dying every year due to pregnancy related causes.  In addition, for every woman who dies, six survive with chronic and debilitating ill health.

In Uganda, infant immortality has declined from 88 to 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. About 29% of all infant deaths occur in the neonatal period i.e. the first 28 days of life.

The leading direct causes of these deaths are haemorrhage (26 percent), sepsis (22 percent), obstructed labour (13 percent), unsafe abortion (8 percent) and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (6 percent), according to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Uganda.

The situation is even more critical for pregnant women who are HIV-positive. Midwives do not seem keen to treat them.

A high percentage of pregnant women end up in the hands of locals who help give birth through traditional ways as this is by far the most cheapest and affordable way of delivery.

Rural districts are even worse off, health services are negligible, with very few medicines and staff and minimal incomplete infrastructure.

There is a lack of healthcare professionals due to meager resources and same causes also leads to less number of health care centers than required and health professionals being underpaid. Thus they are not motivated enough and demand extra from the incoming patients. Even the centers and hospitals that are functioning are critically understaffed like in Mulago hospital [the biggest in Kampala], there are only five health workers in the maternity service instead of 20 before, to cover 60 births a day. So, the stress is high among the staff.

Uganda’s Millennium Development Goals target is to reduce maternal mortality from 435 per 100,000 births to 131 by 2015, which is big challenge, keeping in the view the current situation.

(Statistics from IRIN)

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