Expectant mothers shun health centres over harassment

Tuesday April 23 2019

Expectant mothers stranded as they wait for antenatal services at Namutumba Health Centre III. PHOTO BY RONALD SEEBE

LUUKA- Expectant mothers in Luuka District have shunned government health centres to deliver from unqualified personnel, a situation that puts their lives at risk, a new report has revealed.

Expectant mothers say they prefer delivering in the hands of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to professional midwives because most of them are rude.

A study undertaken by Makerere University School of Public Health, however, indicates that 20 mothers died at the hands of TBAs in two months in Luuka District this year.

While releasing the report at Luuka District headquarters at the weekend, the school’s head of research, Prof Peter Waiswa, said the study, which was undertaken between January and April, looked at how many expectant mothers visit health units for antenatal and delivery services.

He said: “A total of 20 mothers lost their lives in February and March when they were being helped by TBAs to deliver due to failure to access health units. TBAs can only work if they are trained as professionals in that field.”

Filling the gap
Prof Waiswa asked government to equip all the health units to reduce maternal and infant mortality rate.
Ms Babirye Namulondo, a resident of Nawampiti Village in Luuka District, said delivering from government facilities is risky because some midwives behave unprofessionally.


“TBAs know how to care for the mothers during labour, which is not the case with the professional midwives that is why we resort to the services of TBAs. Instead of handling you with care, they just abuse you,” she said.

The Luuka District Health Officer, Mr Pekyako Wabwire, said challenges in the health sector are not an individual’s blame but everyone’s responsibility.

Mr Wabwire said they are soon going to ask Luuka District Council to pass a by-law of registering TBAs.
“What we are left with is to know the particulars of local birth attendants because if we leave them, the blame comes back to us as health experts,’’ he said.

The chairperson of the management committee at Nawampiti Health Centre II, Mr Stanley Mulilo, said expectant mothers are right to seek services from TBAs because services at the government health centres are wanting.
“The health workers’ absenteeism is very high mainly those in hard-to-reach the areas,” he said.

‘Change attitude’
Mr Baker Luwangula, the district chairperson, said: “Much as our people complain about government facilities, we have professionals there who are well trained and ready to work.”

Mr Luwangula advised expectant mothers to get rid of the negative attitude towards government facilities to better their lives.

[email protected]