KAMPALA- Kenyans will join Ugandans in Busia and Namayingo districts to run for several kilometres to save the lives of babies and their mothers who are at risk of death at birth.
The marathon is intended to fundraise for maternal medical equipment for two health centres in Busia and Namayingo in an effort to contribute towards the improvement of girls and women’s health.
The theme of the marathon has been dubbed as “Run for Women and Girls -Improve Maternal Health.
The runners, led by the first lady of Busia county governor, Ms Judith Ojamong, will include diplomats, Members of Parliament, senior corporate individuals, renowned athletes, businessmen, mothers, girl-child and ordinary people, who will run a 12km marathon to help raise funds to fight maternal, early childhood and post-natal deaths.
The Kenyans and Ugandans dubbed as ‘Team Basamia-Bagwe’ will run the Busia Marathon on Saturday to raise awareness and funds that will help improve access to critical maternal healthcare in the rural areas of Lumino and Mutumba sub-counties in Busia and Namayingo districts respectively.
While speaking to Daily Monitor in a telephone interview, Ms Ojamong said they would participate in the race because what affects the Samia-Bagwe in Uganda affects them too.
“I am mobilising Kenyans to join this marathon because all mothers whether Ugandan or Kenyan, remain the same and are affected by the same reproductive health complications. And at times Ugandans cross into Kenya for delivery and vice versa,” said Ms Ojamong said last week.
Free mama kits
The chairman of the marathon, Dr Godfrey Bwire, said at the end of the inaugural marathon, they intend that every woman that delivers in a public health facility will get a free safe kit commonly known as mama kit.
Dr Bwire said pregnancy-related complications such as severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth), infections [usually after birth], high blood pressure during pregnancy [Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and unsafe abortions were the major causes of deaths in Busia and Namayingo last year.
He said the high number of maternal deaths in some of the rural areas in Uganda reflects inequities in access to health services, and highlights the gap between rich and poor.
“We are going to raise Shs200m to equip our health centres of Lumino and Mutumba. We are looking forward to a time when all mothers will comfortably go to health centres and have safe deliveries,” Dr Bwire said.
Ms Dinnah Nabwire, a member of the Basamia-Bagwe marathon committee, said most women in Uganda shun giving birth in public hospitals because they are neglected if they do not have money to procure a Shs10,000 maternal health kit.
Ms Nabwire said in Lumino and Mutumba health centre IIIs, records indicate that they lack essential maternity materials including, mama kits and that after the marathon, mama kits will be distributed to all public health facilities to be given to mothers at no cost.
According to Save the Children’s annual state of the world’s mothers report, Uganda accounts for 2 per cent of annual maternal deaths globally, which is translated into 492 maternal deaths per month and 16 deaths per day.
Ms Nabwire said these figures are ‘high and yet we also know that most of the deaths are not captured by the Health Information Management System, which is the source of maternal mortality estimates.’
“And do you know that there is no accountability of mothers who die on the way, mothers who die at home and those that fail to reach the various health facilities that is the reason why we must compliment government efforts,” she said.
By 2011, according to Uganda Demographic Health Survey, Uganda’s Maternal Mortality Rate was 438 per 100,000 live births.
The Busia District Health Officer, Dr Lillian Achayo, said government has been trying to devise various measures to reduce deaths raging from trainings of more midwives, policy improvements, purchase of medical equipment, construction and improvement of the road services, re-stocking of health facilities with drugs.
She, however, said more needs to be done to stop the deaths.