What you need to know:
- Data obtained from the office of the district biostatician, Mr Geoffrey Ariko, revealed that 257 new-born babies and 12 mothers lost their lives from government health facilities between January and June 2020 alone.
At least 1,038 new-born babies and 52 mothers have died in Lira District in a span of two years due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Data obtained from the office of the district biostatician, Mr Geoffrey Ariko, revealed that 257 new-born babies and 12 mothers lost their lives from government health facilities between January and June 2020 alone.
Between July and December 2019, a total of 262 new-borns and 14 mothers died due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes.
From January to July 2021, a total of 519 babies and 26 mothers died during delivery in government health facilities across Lira District.
The Lira assistant district health officer (DHO) in charge of maternal and child health, Mr Edmond Aceka, confirmed that many new-borns and mothers are still dying due to complications during delivery.
However, he was quick to blame it on the operation of traditional birth attendants (TBAs), who he claimed were misleading expectant mothers.
“Some expectant mothers first seek the services of TBAs in their communities and when they fail to make them deliver safely, they go to health facilities when they have been in labour for so long. This results in the death of either the baby or the mother or both,” Mr Aceka said.
“In a year, you find that we are losing more than 200 children and more than 26 mothers during childbirth,” he added.
This, the assistant DHO said, could be avoided if pregnant mothers seek antenatal care services.
In 2010, the government outlawed TBAs from giving services to expecting mothers, but many women still go to them because of the gaps in the main healthcare system.
Ms Christine Anono, the Lira community development officer, said there is a need to mobilise and sensitise the community on the importance of giving birth at health facilities.
“I urge the local leaders and the development partners to empower these women right from the grassroots so that they are well acquainted with health education to stop them from seeking the services of the TBA,” she said.
Every day, 15 women die in Uganda from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, 94 babies are stillborn and 81 new-born babies die.
This equates to 69, 5701 deaths each year due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
The health sector in Lira is faced with a number of challenges. For instance, a participatory health facility assessment of Emergency Obstetric and New-born Care Services by the White Ribbon Alliance in 2013 indicated that 57.1 per cent of health centre IIIs in the district used personal mobile phone troches as a source of power backup during delivery whereas 28.6 per cent used hurricane lamps.
Also, 42.9 per cent of health centre IIIs reported not to have any form of power back up. Amach Health Centre IV in Erute South was found to have a heavy duty generator but it had never been put to use for the last two years, according to the facility health workers.
The assessment further showed that none of the only two health centre IVs (Amach and Ogur) could offer comprehensive emergency and obstetric care services yet the referral system was reported by all health centres to be highly unreliable.
It was also established that Ogur and Amach health centre IVs were dependent on rain harvested water, boreholes and hiring water fetchers. Health centre IIIs largely depended on borehole water accounting for 85.7 per cent and 71.4 per cent dependent on harvested rain water.
Complied by Bill Oketch, Patrick Ebong & Charity Akullo