Not blame games but health education can help minimise maternal and newborn mortality

Not blame games but health education can help minimise maternal and newborn mortality

onakisitaA while back while watching news on a local television channel, a story of a mother who nearly contributed to Uganda’s maternal mortality statistics caught my attention. The story featured a mother who had just lost her baby, her uterus and was having a damaged bladder. All this had happened during and around the time of delivery.

According to the news item, by the time the woman’s boda boda (motor bike taxi) rider husband rushed her to a private health facility in Kakiri, Wakiso District the baby in the mother’s womb was already dead. She was reportedly rushed to theatre without the husband’s consent to remove the baby, an operation which also led to the loss of the woman’s uterus.

Following the initial lifesaving procedure, the doctor in-charge of the facility referred the mother to Mulago National Referral Hospital and asked her husband to pay the due amount for the operation. This did not go down well with the woman’s hubby who immediately mobilized his fellow boda boda riders to strike, the media was called in and the police arrested the doctor to help with investigations into the case.

I am not here to pass judgment but many questions started racing in my mind regarding this scenario which is not peculiar to this case study. That this mother arrived at the health facility with the baby inside her womb dead, was there a delay in deciding to seek medical care? Did the woman’s family miss vital danger signs? Did she attend all the recommended four ANC sessions? If she did, did the health workers miss to detect that the mother was carrying a risk pregnancy?

Was this the best facility or it was the only choice the family had? Was there delay at the health facility? Did the doctor rush into conducting the operation yet they could have tried the option of first inducing the mother to deliver the dead foetus? Was the uterus badly damaged that the doctor had no choice but to remove the uterus? Did the uterus rapture during labour or during the operation? I could go on and on.

Whatever the case, this story underscores the need for all concerned right from families to healthcare workers to play their roles and responsibilities, if we are to fight maternal and newborn mortality in Uganda.

While maternal health challenges happen everywhere, regardless of age, race, ethnic group and colour, most of these challenges can be avoided, if only families knew their responsibilities by appreciating and ensuring that pregnant women attend ANC (Antenatal Care), deliver at the health facility and go for postnatal care, among others. But this can only happen if healthcare workers health educate the mothers and their families on the importance of these issues. We can also not forget to address the quality of care issues. Together, we can end preventable maternal and newborn deaths!

The Figures

  • Number of maternal deaths per live births: 438 deaths per 100,000 live births
  • Lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth: 1 in 44
  • Number of maternal deaths per year: 5,900
  • Newborn mortality rate: 19

*Blog by Ms Olivia Nakisita who is currently a Masters of Public Health student at MakSPH and one of our 2016 research grant awardees.

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