200 babies, 17 mothers die at Arua hospital in nine months

Wednesday December 02 2020

State minister for Health Joyce Moriku with one of the babies delivered at Arua Regional Referral hospital in 2017. PHOTO/FELIX WAROM OKELLO.


Two hundred babies and seventeen mothers have died in the past nine months at Arua Regional Referral Hospital, the hospital director, Dr Filbert Nyeko, has confirmed.

While presenting a status report during a health review meeting in Koboko on  Monday, Dr Nyeko said the facility delivers about 600 mothers a month but loses more than two in the same period. 

“In the nine months (from January to September), we have lost 17 mothers. That is almost two mothers per month. We have also lost more than 200 babies under the same period; 20 babies per month. This is quite a big number,” he said.

He said of the 600 mothers who deliver at the facility, 33 per cent are referrals from the neighbouring districts. 

He added that 78 per cent deliver normally while 22 per cent under go caesarean section.

Dr Nyeko attributed the deaths to poor road network that causes delay to report to facilities and the limited manpower at the hospital.


He revealed that some cases involve teenage mothers who present with complications.

Ms Prisca Ayikoru, one of the mothers who spoke to Daily Monitor on Monday, said: “In May, I visited the facility but unfortunately lost my baby due to delayed labour and delay by the health workers to attend to me.

By the time they came, the baby was tired and died in the process. It is painful to lose a baby in such a scenario.”

Ms Ayikoru said there is need for the hospital management to recruit more midwives and nurses to handle the big number of mothers delivering from the facility.

Maternal mortality
Uganda’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has consistently been one of the highest in the world with 440 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to Unicef’s latest data. 

In Uganda, one of every 49 women will die of a maternal complication related to pregnancy or delivery.

Ms Edith Safina, the programme officer for Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHUD), said the health workers and facilities are ill- equipped,   a reason for the increased child and maternal deaths.

Ms Safina appealed to government to prioritise capacity building and ensuring access to sexual reproductive services. “Health workers are not equipped to handle some of the emergency cases, therefore, sometime these mothers die on the way. As we create more districts, we should advocate capacity building and also sexual reproductive health services,” she said.

Recently, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Dr Joyce Moriku, appealed to mothers to seek medical attention before and during delivery. 

“These deaths are unacceptable, you should explain how these mothers died and how this can be improved. These mothers come to the hospitals to save lives but they end up losing their lives. We should all work hard to make sure that this high number of deaths is no more,” she said.

Dr Moriku said there is  need to improve the referral systems from the health centres. 

Arua Regional Referral hospital covers an area of 2.8 million people, excluding those from South Sudan and DR Congo.

Established in1939, Arua Hospital has a 394-bed capacity. The facility was elevated to a regional referral hospital in 1994.