Expectant mothers across the country are no longer receiving adequate attention to help them prepare themselves for motherhood, a government official has observed.
In an interview on Friday, Dr Anthony Kihika Mugasa, the reproductive health adviser to the Uganda Health Systems Strengthening Project, said majority of hospitals cannot support pregnancy education anymore because the number of pregnant women outnumbers that of midwives who are supposed to attend to them.
The World Health Organisation recommends that each expectant mother is given at least 30 minutes of examination in the first visit to the hospital, 20 minutes on the second visit and 10 minutes on the third visit. The three visits, Dr Mugasa says, are supposed to prepare the expectant mother to deliver and care for the baby.
Recent research from the Makerere University School of Public Health conducted in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts shows that health centres have abandoned the practice of educating expectant mothers about recommended antenatal and post-natal practices leading to high mortality rate.
According to Dr Richard Mangwi Ayiasi, the lead researcher, the study revealed that pregnant women in the districts are not trained in prenatal and newborn- care.
“Most mothers interviewed thought going for antenatal visits meant going to pick medicine. Many admitted that they use all sorts of concoctions to treat umbilical cords of new born babies so that they heal fast. Majority said they prefer delivering with the help of traditional birth attendants because of the better quality care,” he said.
Reports from the Ministry of Health indicate that 16 mothers die every day while giving birth due to health related complications in Uganda.
Asked why giving birth in Uganda is a deathtrap, Dr Mugasa said this is a natural process which should not kill, and blamed the deaths on lack of information. “Most of the educational materials in health centres are written in the wrong languages, assuming that all the mothers visiting the health facilities know how to read and write,” he said.