BY DICKSON TUMURAMYE
In Uganda, it is estimated that 16 mothers die daily due to pregnancy- related complications. Comparatively, in Canada it is 16 a year!
Many factors lead to this, but nearly all of these deaths are preventable. The maternal deaths do not segregate among the rich or poor, educated or not. Recently, the Iganga District Woman MP Grace Hailat Kaudha Magumba, 31 years old, tragically succumbed to severe preeclampsia.
Save-the-Mothers, a UCU programme, trains and works with professionals from all sectors to end maternal mortality in Uganda. The programme’s belief is that everyone has a role to play in ensuring safe motherhood: men, women, doctors, journalists, lawyers, politicians, all can help.
Its Mother-Baby- Friendly hospital initiative started in 2011 has introduced toll-free line services within nine Ugandan hospitals so far.
“The service helps community members to call for free, any time of day, and speak directly with a health worker on the maternity ward. People call with questions about pregnancy and childbirth, but also newborn care, family planning and for ambulance services when there is need,” said Jessica Huston, the programme intern.
Through the programme, UCU as a whole is already making progress in mitigating the challenges of maternal health in local communities.
With great feedback, the services continue to improve. One user said, “I was greatly helped yet I did not even use my money for transport (or to make the call) but I was able to get information from the health worker.”
Another factor that would greatly improve maternal health care is the involvement of men. This is still low and yet it is pertinent for husbands to accompany their spouses to the clinics for antenatal and post-natal treatment. The provision of financial support alone may not be enough because the woman needs emotional support at that time.
The challenge is that men possess little knowledge and experience regarding maternal health. But in emergencies, men easily control the situation through decision-making and can save a life.
According to Dr Miriam Mutabazi, the director Save the Mothers, “To empower the man with appropriate knowledge is to liberate the woman.”
“The outcome of a woman’s journey is dependent upon the support of her husband, brother or father. Very often the presence of an empowered man can turn around a helpless situation to one of hope, for most vulnerable women,” Mutabazi adds.
Mutabazi also advises the men to use the toll-free line to ask for answers, from a professional, to questions on reproductive and sexual health issues.
Save the Mothers is working with Government to see how all these toll-free line services can get to all hospitals countrywide.
Save the numbers and share with your friends and family. A simple call can save the lives of mothers and their babies:
Kawolo – 800100022
Naggalama – 800100023
Mukono HCIV – 800100024
Buikwe – 800100025
Mubende – 800100027
Mityana – 800100028 Tororo- 800100034
Mbale Referral – 800100035
Nakaseke – 800100266