Kabarole. Kabarole District has registered a drastic reduction in maternal and new born mortality.
According to a new survey conducted by the district health department in various health facilities, for the last five years the number of mothers who die during labour has reduced from 708 per 100,000 live births in 2012 to 490 in 2018.
“Many mothers would die while giving birth because some of our health facilities were none functional due to lack of equipment,” said Dr Richard Mugahi, the district health officer, told Daily Monitor at the weekend.
Dr Mugahi, however, attributed the break-through to key interventions the district adopted in the past five years.
“Our facilities were renovated. We also recruited 20 mid wives and doctors to address the human resource gap,” he revealed.
The survey reveals that stillbirths per 1,000 live births declined from 38.6 in 2012 to 26.6 in 2018, neonatal death reduced from 44.5 to 31.7 while fresh stillbirths reduced from 27.5 to 15.6 in the period of five years.
The district health department in partnership with Baylor Uganda, a non-governmental organisation that provides health systems strengthening HIV prevention, HIV care and treatment, maternal and new born care, introduced a programme “Saving mothers, giving life’’ where all pregnant women were registered and monitored until the time of giving birth.
They also introduced a boda boda mother voucher which mothers buy at Shs2,000 during their first antenatal care visit.
While using the voucher, the boda boda rider signs in a register at a health facility each time he delivers an expectant mother, specifying the details of the mother and the distance covered.
With the boda boda voucher, mothers do not incur transport costs as the hospital working with Baylor Uganda meets the charges. This, Dr Mugahi, said has helped reduce the number of mothers giving birth in villages with the help of traditional birth attendants.
“These vouchers were sold by village health teams who also mobilised pregnant mothers to seek care from the health facilities,” he said.
According to records at the district health office, 90 per cent women have embraced health facilities compared to 74 per cent in 2012 which has resulted in a decline of deaths among new born babies.
Health facilities offering caesarean services have increased from three to six. These include Bukuku Health Centre IV, Kabarole Hospital, Virika Hospital, Fort Portal Region Referral Hospital, Khida Hospital and Kibiito Health Centre IV.
Dr Mugahi revealed that three doctors have been put on call to maternal health complications.
Ms Sarah Olihiriza, a mother from Harugongo Sub-county, who used the boda boda voucher system to deliver from Nyataboma Health Centre III ,said: “When I went into labour, I called Deo Mungenyi, a boda boda rider, who transported me to Nyataboma health facility. I reached in 45 minutes and delivered safely.”
Ms Olihiriza has since volunteered to mobilise mothers in the communities to deliver from health facilities.
The district health educator, Ms Catherine Kemigabo, said the council early this year passed a resolution that requires every pregnant mother to contribute Shs1,000 during antenatal visits for fuelling the ambulance as one way of reducing maternal mortality rate.
Financing. In the past three years, the district local government has prioritised health in its annual budgets. In the 2014/15 financial year, the budget for the health sector was Shs4.8b, in 2015/16 the budget was increased to Shs5.3 billion, in the 2016/17 financial year Shs4.8b was allocated to the sector while in the 2018/19 Shs4.3b has been set aside. The officer-in-charge of Bukuku health centre IV, Dr Solomon Arinaitwe, said ever since the programme of saving mothers was introduced in 2012, they have had fewer cases of maternal mortality at the facility. They now have between 90 and 120 mothers delivering from their facility unlike before when they only had 40 mothers.