Activists in Uganda demand action to prevent maternal deaths
Alliance linking organisation Community Health Alliance Uganda is part of a national coalition of activists who will gather at the Constitutional Court in Kampala on July 7 at the start of a landmark case against the Government of Uganda on maternal mortality.
The case, Petition Number 16 of 2011, argues that by not providing essential medical commodities and services to pregnant women, the Government of Uganda is violating the Constitutional rights of Ugandans, including the right to health, the right to life, and the rights of women.
The Petition highlights the cases of Sylvia Nalubowa, a mother in Mityana, in central Uganda and Jennifer Anguko, a mother and District Councillor in Arua in north western Uganda, both of whom died in childbirth.
Many reports of additional maternal deaths from across Uganda have continued to come to light since the case was filed on 3 March 2011. Leonard Okello, Executive Director of Community Health Alliance Uganda (CHAU) said: 'Deaths of women such as Sylvia Nalubowa and Jennifer Anguko are sadly commonplace in Uganda. At least 16 women die each day in childbirth or soon after. These figures are scandalous considering Uganda's widely recognized economic growth.'
Why are mothers, newborns & children dying?
The leading causes of maternal and child death in Uganda include the massive shortage of trained health workers to attend births, the lack of access to emergency obstetric care for responding to haemorrhages and other emergencies, and the lack of availability of quality antenatal care and family planning services.
The gap in access to life-saving HIV and malaria treatment are also major causes of maternal mortality. In Uganda, HIV contributes to about one in four maternal deaths. Triple combination HIV treatment for all pregnant women who need it would substantially reduce maternal mortality.
How the Alliance is working to improve maternal and child health in Uganda
The Alliance has been expanding its programming to reduce HIV related maternal mortality through a project funded by UKAID for the Department for International Development which focuses on social mobilisation, advocacy and enabling HIV positive women to access effective health services.
Okello said; The DFID project* is enabling CHAU to raise awareness of the links between HIV and maternal mortality, and advocate for the development of national policies that establish community referral pathways for HIV positive women and their families. The demonstration in Kampala tomorrow is part of a range of advocacy activities with our partners to engage with policy-makers in order to improve maternal health services in Uganda.
Take action now
CHAU is working in partnership the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and a number of other civil society organisations who have come together in an independent coalition to file the petition due to be heard in court tomorrow.
You can show solidarity with CEHURD and Sylvia and Jennifer & families by taking action through our What's Preventing Prevention? campaign site here.
For more information on the DFID Maternal and Child Health Project, contact Gwen Wilkins, the Alliance regional National Partnership Platform coordinator based in South Africa.
For more information on the Alliance approach, refer to our latest Good Practice Guide on the integration of HIV and sexual and reproduction health and rights which was launched earlier this year.
- The DFID MNCH project focuses on four countries in Africa: South Sudan, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.
" At least 16 women die each day in childbirth for soon after"