The lack of adequate health workers is affecting the implementation of Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) project in Kyenjojo district.
The 600 million shillings programme which is being funded by Baylor Uganda, with support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is meant to reduce maternal deaths in the district.
However, unlike other districts in the Ruwenzori region which have registered a reduction in maternal deaths due to implementation of the project, in Kyejonjo, the story is different. Cases of maternal deaths have continued to increase.
According to statistics at the district health department, the number of maternal deaths has increased from 30 to 65 a month.
The two year project involves equipping health centres with essential basic equipment such as gloves and mother kits and provision of ambulances to enable expectant mothers access the health facilities.
At two health centre IIIs visited by Uganda Radio Network, which include Rugombe and Bugaki, there were not enough health workers to attend to the expectant mothers.
At Bugaki health centre, the in-charge, Simon Bagonza, says that the health unit has only one midwife. He says that despite the health centre being equipped with basic equipments such as gloves and mother kits and adequate delivery beds, pregnant women who come for antenatal visits and delivery are sometimes turned away because there are no health workers to attend to them.
Bagonza says that since there is an ambulance, some of the pregnant women have been referred to Kyejonjo health centre IV or Fort Portal referral hospital, where there are enough health workers.
Bernard Kadoma, the in-charge of the maternal health unit, says that the district advertised 90 posts for midwives to fill vacancies in health centre IIIs, but managed to recruit only ten, which aren’t enough.
He says that some of them failed the interviews or lacked the required qualifications.
Margaret Kabahuma, a resident of Rugombe trading centre says that lack of medical workers keeps her stuck in the wards without medical services. Kabahuma also says they spent more than 9 hours without getting medical attention.
Kabahuma says that the shortage of health workers, has forced her turn to the services of the traditional birth attendants (TBAs), because they can easily be accessed.
According to a report by the World Health organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, the UN population Fund and the World Bank, although Uganda’s maternal mortality rate has improved over the last 20 years, there is still a lot of work to be done by policy makers in making sure that obstetrical care is available to all mothers.