Train regional hospitals to solve birth defects

A section of Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital. PHOTO/PAUL ADUDE

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Birth defects
  • Our view: Government needs to establish paediatric theatres in the regions to enable doctors to correct these anomalies before they escalate. 

Figures show that the current infant mortality rate for Uganda is 39.171 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 3.43 percent decline from 2022. 

The infant mortality rate for Uganda in 2022 was 40.564 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 3.32 percent decline from 2021.

All those show an improvement in the health sector which is often at the centre of discussions, along with the education sector.  

Health is perhaps the easiest to score points. The government will use it to show that it’s on the right path. 

The Opposition will rush to point out the deficiencies to justify the need to change. 
Civil society and everyone in between will easily gain traction by highlighting the challenges and how those can be overcome. 

The only one without a really loud voice in this debate is often the citizen who is the primary consumer of health services – both good and bad.

It’s your choice to celebrate or bemoan the aforementioned figures but whatever call you make, it’s extremely sad that women still die in child labour.

The decline is largely down to the fact that more and more women are choosing to deliver in health facilities and shunning traditional birth attendants. 

Put simply – there are less women giving birth in banana plantations. Now, there is a growing challenge that needs to be solved fast. 

Experts have found that there is an increasing number of cases involving babies who are born without anal openings and other related birth defects.

Health workers say the number of babies with the condition, also known as “imperforate anus”, is increasing, especially in the countryside.

Most of these can be corrected through surgery while the baby is still young. Some of these defects include hearing and sight difficulties among others.

Few of these babies get the attention at birth because the midwives doing the job may not have the tools of expertise to check and rule out these defects. 

As the babies grow, most of these are discovered. At this point, the cost of corrective surgeries is high unlike if these were conducted earlier. 

That’s how we often end up with fundraising campaigns of desperate parents and caregivers seeking exorbitant fees to have the lucky ones undergo surgery. 

We don’t always have to let everything reach crisis levels like we have with floods. 

Government needs to establish paediatric theatres in the regions to enable doctors to correct these anomalies before they escalate. 

By doing so, the cost of having to send children to India and everywhere else for surgeries that may cost many times more will be minimised.