May 19, 2020

Minister sounds alert on Safe Childbirth, Maternal Health amid COVID-19 Pandemic


State minister of Health for Primary health care,Hon. Joyce Moriku Kaducu at Yumbe Hospital with members of the district COVID-19 taskforce.

Arua – Minister urges health workers to take care of expectant mothers, amidst the national fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

State Minister of Health for Primary Health Care, Hon. Joyce Moriku Kaducu made the call during her recent work visit to West Nile region.

“So, I want to alert you that much as we are fighting against COVID-19 pandemic, let’s not forget about mothers” Hon. Kaducu sounded her appeal.

She lists mothers who need safe deliveries at facilities, after and care to the new born babies, among those whose lives needs attention for them to survive.

“Tender care to our mothers who need delivery at health facilities. Some need actual care and those, that may need other maternal related care including our children, should be offered the necessary services” the minister pleads.

Hon. Kaducu recalls that West Nile and Karamoja regions lead maternal mortality in the country. She laments the situation might get worse under this period where the most focus is directed towards fighting COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you go to the national statistic of maternal mortality, West Nile and Karamoja are leading. West Nile is one of the regions with the highest maternal mortality, especially in the month of March. Am appealing to you our health workers, let our maternal mortality rates in April to Maybe at a lower scale. Otherwise, where we are leading so far, it is very unfortunate” laments the minister who equally hails from West Nile didn’t offer figures of maternal mortality in the region.

State Minister of Health for Primary Health Care, Hon Joyce Moriku Kaducu offspring facemasks to Maracha district COVID-19 pandemic through the Woman MP. Ayaka Rose Atima.

She also appeals to health workers to tackle malaria cases while are at alarming levels in the region. She calls for the commitment of health workers at work and them taking extra strides.

“I’m appealing in an especial way to health caregivers, cases of malaria are rising and wherever you are, it’s time to stand up in solidarity to offer services beyond self. This is the time to do what we can do within our means. If not you, who else can come to save that life?” She questions.

Recounting her past medical hiccups, Hon. Kaducu claims she would have gone to her creator, save for hardworking Doctors and God who extended her life for a purpose, likewise the health workers.

“God has chosen you for a purpose and God knows why I’m alive up to now. I was meant to die two years ago but save for the doctors and God who saved my life. That’s why I work beyond self. In the same way, health workers, where you are, God has chosen you for a purpose” the minister reflects.

In appreciating health workers, the minister notes that driver, in most times are not recognized while they are key in saving lives especially, transporting expectant mothers during labour period.

“I want to thank health care professionals, not forgetting drivers, wherever you are, we do forget about you sometimes but we want to say thank you drivers” she expresses.

According to the minister, drivers, as being among front liners, offer services at the risk of their lives, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We say, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, let’s not forget drivers who are also at the forefront. They move around carrying COVID-19 cases and suspects, taking them to the health facilities at risk, without complaints. They do a lot, not only in COVID-19 management but other patients who need services” the minister notes.

She laments that immunization has not being conducted this year like other health care services that have dropped in the country.

“It sad to note that immunization had gone down. It’s very unfortunate that other services have also gone down” she regrets.

Dr. George Bhoka, Adjumani district health officer, who leads district health officers in West Nile region acknowledges challenges COVID-19 pandemic has laid upon other health programs.

He notes that COVID-19 dropped in surprise, drawing away health focus without plans nor programs.

“We are in emergency with limited resources, supplies and logistics. COVID-19 took all of us by surprise, without plans and programs. As a new disease, we lacked training on how to handle it and training arrangement are slower than spread of the disease” Dr. Bhoka stresses.

The regional Health Officers chairperson calls for a balance in health service delivery amidst COVID-19 pandemic.

“‘Inspite of the panic and anxieties of COVID-19 pandemic, where there are still no deaths, maternal mortality is high and malaria fatalities are on the rise, so we need to strike a balance. If we don’t balance our boat well enough, we stand the risk of drowning,” Dr. Bhoka warns.

He advises each district health officers to draw plans in tackling the 12 aspects of health services delivery, ranging from Immunization which he notes has lapses, reproductive health, communicable and none communicable disease, integrated clinical services among others.

“To safeguard against creating loopholes in service provision, we decided to set aside 120 health workers and trained them as front liners to handle cases of COVID-19,” Dr Bhoka discloses.

He added that the rest of health workers continue offering usual services to the people.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal health is the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

Estimates from Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Uganda’s maternal mortality ratio, the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 live births stands at 343 after allowing for adjustments.

Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth and the major complications include severe bleeding, infections, unsafe abortion and obstructed labor.

Uganda is slow in its progress in the fifth goal of improving maternal health in its Millennium Development Goals. With the 2015 target for maternal mortality ratio at 131 per 100,000 births and proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel set at 100%, Uganda has a long battle in reaching its intended goals.

Moreover, the methodology used and the sample sizes implemented by the Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS) do not allow for precise estimates of maternal mortality. This suggests that the estimates collated are erroneous and it is conceivable that the actual rates could be much higher than those reported.

High maternal mortality rates persist in Uganda due to an overall low use of contraceptives, limited capacity of health facilities to manage abortion/miscarriage complications and prevalence of HIV/AIDS among pregnant women.

Despite malaria being one of the leading causes of morbidity in pregnant women, prevention and prophylaxis services are not well established.