While Uganda has made progress towards improving health of mothers and newborns; the country still ranks among the top countries with high maternal and newborn death rates.
Dr Placid Mihayo, an official from the ministry of Health said more needs to be done especially in emergency neonatal care, which, he said is still not good within the country's poorly facilitated hospitals. Also, he said, “health workers need to improve in surgical skills and there is also a need to increase access to competent and high quality care to labouring women in Uganda.”
Mihayo said this while launching specialized training in operative obstetrics and surgical skills at Makerere University. The launch was coordinated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (ACOG).
“Over the past 20 years, maternal mortality rates have fallen by only 20 per cent. In order to keep working towards reducing this number we need to employ proven solutions like professional doctors trained by ACOG,” Mihayo said.
The training, Essential Training in Operative Obstetrics (ETOO) was launched at Makerere College of Health Sciences Mulago hospital by Dr Diana Atwine, permanent secretary ministry of Health. The program will train intern doctors from Makerere , Mbarara and Busitema universities starting this year.
The program will benefit 200 master trainers and over 490 service providers and it is hoped that this will help prevent 57,600 maternal and newborn deaths in the country.
Atwine said, since government has improved health care facilities and facilitation to medical personnel, there is need for some government workers to improve their professional conduct when it comes to issues of time keeping and absenteeism.
She said, the maternal death rates in Uganda are still high and account for 20 per cent of the annual maternal death globally
“Uganda had maternal mortality of 438 per 1000 live births in 2010 but although reduced to 368 per 1000 live births in 2016. This is an unacceptably high number,” she said.
Atwine said, the health sector development plan targets to reduce maternal mortality to 320 by 2020 and the UN Strategic Development Goal target is less than 70 per 1000 births in 2030.
“Uganda is also among the countries with highest teenage pregnancies. The health sector has identified the key causes of maternal death as hemorrhage obstructed labour and complications from abortion. It is important that this program focus on how to mitigate the causes of death amongst our mothers,” she said.
Prof Kamya, dean school of Medicine at Makerere University stated that, he was very happy that Makerere was selected as key partners of the training which will go a long way in saving the lives of many Ugandan mothers, daughters and children.
Dr Owen Montgomery, the obstetrician and gynaecologist department chair at Drexel University School of Medicine stated that, the training will focus on training doctors in the areas of basic and safe surgical skills, including training of how to conduct cesarean sections, to prevent hundreds of maternal and perinatal deaths plus maternal complications.
“We need to have high quality services closer to the women who need them, this will help reduce delays in larger referral hospitals, and build confidence throughout the whole health system,” Montgomery said