PROMISES OF A WOULD-BE PRESIDENT

Presidential candidate Warren Kizza Besigye has promised to make maternity care a priority if he is elected in the Uganda poll today, writes White Ribbon Alliance Citizen Journalist Williams Moi.

While Campaigning in Oyam district and in various venues of Lango sub Region in Northern Uganda on Monday evening, Besigye expressed his deep regret that 19 mothers die every day in Uganda due to lack of good quality maternity care.

As one of Uganda’s presidential aspirants in this 2016 general election, Besigye has said that he would invest in maternal health services. Besigye promised that if he is elected to the Presidency, he will ensure that neither newborns nor mothers will die from preventable causes while giving birth.

“We must invest in maternal health care services and to make sure the health centres staff their facilities so that every mother can attend Antenatal Natal Care (ANC),” he said.  He also stressed the importance of self-care and personal responsibility: “every mother should have prepared their kit ready for the birth, what we call the ‘Mama kit’ which has items all mother needs during delivery.’’

Besigye added that after delivery he would give all mothers a maternity pack, to include what the mother and the newborn needs for the first month after birth. ‘’These measures will go a long way to secure our mothers and also their newborns, because so many of them die at delivery and during the first months after birth” said Besigye. “I want to invest more in maternal health and social services.”

‘’The mothers die not because they are sick but simply because they lack skilled care while giving life to young ones. Women just want their children born safely. We must pay specific attention to our mothers; to lose 19 per day during birth and afterwards is really scandalous. In addition,  40% of Ugandan children are stunted, not just physically but in brain development. Lack of nutrition is a disaster for the country. We want to invest in immunisation and hygiene as well, to ensure every home handles hygiene carefully, not sharing accommodation with animals such as pigs and goats.”

Besigye is also concerned about the high number of widows and orphans in Uganda left behind by war, and many who are becoming infected with HIV/AIDS.
‘’We want to focus on preventive health care and health education. I plan to provide good programmes and resources for Ugandans to address their plight especially on maternal health.”

If Besigye is elected, White Ribbon Alliance Uganda will be holding the new President to account for his promises.

THE TRAUMA OF STILLBIRTHS: A MIDWIFE'S STORY

THE TRAUMA OF STILLBIRTHS: A MIDWIFE'S STORY

“A stillbirth always traumatizes all of us: the midwife who wants to help the mother to successfully give birth to her child, and the mother who carries the pregnancy for a long time only to hear that her child is dead. As midwife and a mother, it makes me feel very bad" says Najjuma Kalule, a midwife in the Mityana District of Uganda - Kasule Ahmed, White Ribbon Alliance Uganda Reports.

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STILLBIRTHS: A MENACE TO RURAL WOMEN

STILLBIRTHS: A MENACE TO RURAL WOMEN

Just over two weeks ago, on January 2nd, Nabasirye Shamimu gave birth to a baby boy who died as he was born. On the night of the birth, Nabasirye’s labour pains began at about 11pm but she could not afford the transport costs to go back to Namwezi Health Center. She needed about £5 to hire a car to get there, about a week’s earnings for her husband – but he had not been paid his wages for November or December 2015.

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CITIZENS' HEARING LEADS TO NEW HEALTH CENTRE

The Citizens' Hearing organised by White Ribbon Alliance Malawi at Kapyanga in Kasungu District has lead to the creation of a new health centre as demanded by citizens at the Hearing. 

Member of Parliament for Kasungu East Hon. Kazombo promised that he would ensure a health facility was built for the community, signing a pledge in front of local people at the Hearing. Hon. Kazombo will soon be hosting a launch of the new health centre with members of the community and WRA Malawi.

This is fantastic progress; Citizens' Hearings are powerful tools to help communities and leaders come together to improve health for women, children and adolescents, as well as the community as a whole.

ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY TO BETTER HEALTH SERVICES

White Ribbon Alliance Citizen Journalist Enock Mnyenyembe reports from Malawi

Malawians have been identifying The biggest problems for pregnant women mothers seeking health care in Mzimba North. These include a lack of accountability, a chronic shortage of trained health personnel, together with a serious lack of resources.

“Expectant mothers are being assisted by unskilled health personnel due to shortage of staff” said Jenifer Mkandawire, Executive Director of the Foundation for Children Rights, a Malawian NGO which is part of the White Ribbon Alliance Malawi.

“These shortages affect quality of care, as health workers suffer so much from fatigue. The attitude of some health workers also makes expectant women fear to deliver at the hospital, and this in turn increases the risks of maternal mortality and morbidity. We urgently need the government to train more health personnel to improve maternal health service delivery.”

Mkandawire was speaking at a research dissemination workshop conducted in partnership with the University of Livingstonia and  the University of Amsterdam on the quality of maternal health care in Mzimba North: 

How can things be improved? Mkandawire’s organisation has targeted Health Care Advisory Committee members from all twenty four health centres in the Region, so that they engage  with citizens and become accountable in terms of maternal health services delivery.

“Some Health Care Advisory Committees are active and others are not.  We want to make them active so that they participate in raising the voices of women who are demanding better maternal health care.”

Mkandawire urges Health Care Advisory Committee to create a platform whereby expectant women may voice their concerns.  These committees should enable duty bearers in the health system to meet with the citizens, to talk about maternal health in hospitals.

One Health Care Advisory Committee member who was at the event, John Chiumia , said “we have a number of challenges in our health centres. We lack water, electricity and beds.”

But above all there is a lack of accountability said Chiumia. “Officials are not accountable to the citizens, and this badly affects the quality of health care. Furthermore, delay by the Ministry in training Healthcare Advisory Committee members on their roles and responsibilities leaves a serious gap.”

Increasingly, there is global and national recognition that for health services to provide the quality care which people deserve, citizens must be consulted and included in government policy making and implementation. As the global movement of Citizens Hearings for rights in reproductive health says, ‘there should be nothing about us without us!”