Government is making plans to ensure every woman going to give birth at a health centre is given a mama’s kit as a right.
The kit includes 500 grams of cotton wool, baby soap, two razor blades, 2 polythene sheets, two gauze pieces, three surgical gloves, and an immunization card.
Dr Joseph Byamugisha, the head of Obstetrics and Gynecology directorate at the Ministry of Health, says the package, also known as Clean Delivery Kit, is aimed at having mothers undergo safe and protective delivery.
He acknowledges that many mothers face the challenge of buying out of pocket considering health centres and hospitals tend to ask for many items from an expectant mother.
At Mulago national referral hospital, Seraphine Twinomuhangi, the Deputy Sister in charge at the labour ward, expressed concern regarding the quantity of items distributed.
She adds that there are times when they ask mothers to come with their own kits but thinks government should also include a cloth for the baby in the kits to cater for the newborn.
Deborah Mbonwa, a first time mother and resident of Kyebando in Kampala was grateful to have got a mama’s kit saying it’s very portable considering she had to carry it everywhere as she approached the due date.
But Dr Byamugisha says this is better than nothing and hopes there will be an improvement in the future if funds allow. He adds that they have seen an increment of mothers coming to give birth in hospital. Health facility delivery is at 57 percent meaning 43 percent are still delivering outside the health facilities.
In the financial year 2013/2014 financial year, the Ministry of Health intends to procure 70,000 kits at 700 million shillings. On the other hand the National Medical Stores (NMS) has budgeted 8 billion shillings for Investment and free distribution of Mama Kits to health facilities country wide.
Each kit as per the NMS rate costs 7 dollars or 18,000 shillings.
On the open market, cotton costs 15,000 shillings, gauze is at 2000 shillings, while gloves go for 2000 shillings a pair. Polythene sheet costs 4000 shillings, while blade and baby soap goes for 1000 and 7000 shillings respectively. This means any mother spending out of pocket needs at least 39,000 shillings.
However, Denis Odwe, the executive Director Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, urges government to increase the budget by 4 billion shillings. He also questioned why both Ministry of Health and NMS have to budget for the same items instead of using the money to cover up other gaps thus the need for harmonization of roles.
Odwe argues that the budget has remained the same for the past three years yet the number of mothers is increasing, taking into account the number of female adolescents crossing to reproductive age. The reproductive age bracket in Uganda is 15 to 49 years and the fertility rate is 5.9 children per woman.
This means poor young girls and women in the rural areas who have low usage of family planning methods have to spend out of pocket yet access to health care is an obligation of the state.