Lack of beds forces expectant mothers to give birth in chairs

Wednesday September 15 2021
By Ronald Seebe

Health workers at Ivukula Health Centre III in Namutumba District have decried the lack of beds at the facility saying expectant mothers are now forced to deliver in chairs.

Ms Allen Komuhwezi, an enrolled nurse at the facility, at the weekend said the only available delivery bed is too old and not enough to serve the overwhelming number of expectant mothers, who come to deliver on a daily basis.

“On average, at least six mothers are attended to, although sometimes we receive between three to four expectant mothers at the same time. So, what we do in such a case, is to put one of them on the only available bed and the rest on office chairs,” she said.

She added: “Much as we are trained health workers, positioning an expectant mother to deliver on an office chair exposes the new born baby to risks like body injuries because medically, a child is supposed to be delivered on a delivery bed.”

Ms Komuhwezi added that the number of expectant mothers visiting the facility increased after the country started registering Covid-19 cases. 

“Before Covid-19, we were registering about 300 expectant mothers every year but the number has tripled,” she said.


“Since last year, about 1,000 mothers have delivered from the unit, while a total of 300 mothers have been referred to Nsinze Health Centre IV and Iganga-Nakavule hospital for surgical operations,” Ms Komuhwezi added.

According to Ms Komuhwezi, out of 1,000 expectant mothers, 80 were school-going children between the ages of 12 and 15.

“The proximity of Ivukula Health Centre III to Kaliro and Kibuku districts means it receives a high number of expectant mothers compared to all health centre IIIs in the district,” she said.

She added that there is no running water and electricity in the maternity ward.

Mr Robert Balikoowa, the officer-in-charge at the facility, said they had requested for more delivery beds since 2016 in vain.

“We urge district leaders and Ministry of Health to consider Ivukula Health Centre III because our immediate concern is to get more delivery beds to save mothers from delivering on chairs,” he said.

Mr Balikoowa added that the facility is serving as a constituency health centre IV.

“Since our efforts to have more delivery beds seem to have hit a dead end, we are optimistic that if the facility is elevated to a health centre IV, more delivery beds will be supplied,” he said.

Mr David Mukisa, the district chairperson, said plans were underway to elevate the facility to a health centre IV and serve as a full capacity constituency hospital.

“Resolutions were passed in the previous council sittings and we are only waiting to hear from the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Mr Moses Kisaame, the Ivukula Sub-county chairperson, faulted the district health team for not doing enough to procure more delivery beds.

Mr Kisaame attributed the overwhelming number of expectant mothers to a “high fertility” of women.

“It is not [true] that women are conceiving because of the lockdown but because they are fertile. I, therefore, urge the district health officer to consider Ivukula as a priority when it comes to budgeting,” he said.

Mr Patrick Mutyaba, the district vice chairperson representing Nangonde Sub-county, called for a fundraising drive towards the procurement of delivery beds, saying the matter is of public concern and needs immediate intervention. 

Mr Rogers Wambi, a resident of Ivukula Town Council, said some mothers have shunned the facility because of tales of delivering on chairs.

“Mothers say delivering on chairs is as risky as delivering at the hands of traditional birth attendants,” he said.