Tuesday March 13 2018

Maternal health faces setback over drug stock-outs

Expectant mothers attend anten

Expectant mothers attend antenatal care at Mulago hospital last year. PHOTO BY DOMINIC BUKENYA 

By Lilian Namagembe

Kampala- The country’s success in reducing maternal mortality rate might be reversed by the consistent stock out of sexual and reproductive health commodities across public, private and mission health facilities, findings by a 2017 survey report have indicated.
The commodities include those for family planning, maternal health and child health.
The 2016 Uganda Health Demographic and Health Survey (UHDS) indicated that maternal mortality has reduced from 438 to 368 deaths per 100, 000 live births.

However, the Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodities: Measuring Prices, Availability and Affordability Data collection Report - Uganda 2017 points out, among others, the rampant stock out of Magnesium Sulphate, a drug prescribed for pregnant mothers with onset of high blood pressure, also called pre-eclampsia, one of the leading causes of maternal deaths.

“Magnesium Sulphate, used in the treatment of pre-term labour and pre-eclampsia , had low availability across all sectors for both for both formulations researched ; no sector had it available at more than 30 per cent of facilities,” the report, whose results were released last Wednesday, reads in part.

The study was carried out the Health Action International (HAI) in partnership with Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS Uganda) between August and September last year. A total of 124 health facilities belonging to public, private and mission sectors in both urban and rural areas were visited by data collectors.

The survey also revealed the inconsistent availability of other pregnancy drugs such as dexamethasone, used in the management of preterm labour whose availability was also low in the public (36 per cent), private (55 per cent) and mission (43 per cent) sectors.

“Oxytocin, used to induce labour and in the prevention and treatment of post-partum haemorrhage, was commonly available in the public sector (90 per cent) but less commonly available in the private and mission sectors… Misoprostol, also used to induce labour, was commonly available in the public sector (88 per cent) but less common in the private and mission sectors (50 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively),” it adds.

Mr Denis Kibira, the executive director of HEPS-Uganda, said: “The key issue we found was the availability of magnesium sulphate used in the treatment of preeclampsia and yet its price was high in the private sector. The prices of implants in the private sector were also relatively high in the private sector but availability of family planning commodities in misson facilities was very low overall.”