A new report released by Ministry of Health has named haemorrhage as the leading cause of maternal mortality, accounting for nearly half of all deaths.
The National Annual Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response (MPDSR) Report 2018/2019 titled Every Mother and New-born Accounted For attributes 46 per cent of the maternal deaths to haemorrhage.
Dr Alex Muhereza, a senior advisor for maternal newborn and child services in Acholi sub-region said postpartum haemorrhage accounted for more maternal deaths than any other cause.
Dr Muhereza explained that 84 per cent of the mothers who have haemorrhage die after they have delivered due to ruptured uterus, previous scars and health workers not monitoring the bleeding very well.
“While we talk about bleeding as a big problem it is bigger among women who have already delivered and the causes of this postpartum haemorrhage are due to ruptured uterus, mother got complicated labour… and ruptured before they got interventions and they bleed and die,” Dr Muhereza said.
However, a health worker who didn’t want to be mentioned said shortage of blood at health facilities has increased maternal mortality.
He said in case of need of blood during delivery or after delivery, most of the time there is no blood which sometimes forces them to refer patients in a critical state.
In the past three years, there has been a relative reduction in institutional maternal mortality ratio from 108 per 100,000 deliveries in financial year 2016/17 to 92 per 100,000 deliveries in financial year 2018/19.
According to the report, Tooro sub-region reported the highest number of maternal deaths followed by Bunyoro while Karamoja region reported the lowest number of maternal deaths.
However, Dr Robert Mutumba, a Principal medical officer in the Reproductive Health Division at Ministry of Health said the fact that most maternal deaths were reported in Tooro and Bunyoro may not necessarily mean that majority of maternal deaths in the country occurred in those regions.
Dr Mutumba said some facilities in other regions did not report the deaths.
“Using this particular indicator, we are trying to encourage other facilities to report. We still have challenges of reporting so you might find these two regions reported the highest numbers but who knows; more of these maternal deaths could have occurred in other regions,”Dr Mutumba said.
Other causes of maternal mortality according to the report include, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy at 11 per cent, pregnancy related sepsis at 6 per cent among others.
Institutional maternal mortality ratio was highest at the regional and national referral hospitals at 382 per 1000 deliveries.
“This could be as result of late and critical referrals from lower facilities, over stretched resources, inadequate essential supplies like blood and lifesaving commodities and delays to access services at referral sites, “ the report reads in part.
Dr Mutumba said there is need for commitment from all stakeholders to end maternal mortality.