DESPITE a sustained sensitisation campaign calling on pregnant mothers to deliver at hospitals, the number of those giving birth at home is increasing. Statistics from Muhanga District alone indicate that between July 2012 and June 2013, the district registered 96 cases of mothers who delivered from home. This is higher than the previous year which had seen only about 60 cases.
The dangers of giving birth at home are grave. Usually home deliveries are not carried out by qualified mid-wives. In case of a complication during delivery, the baby might die or even the mother.
Leaders at all levels should continue sensitising expectant mothers about the importance of going for ante-natal care and giving birth in a hospital under the care of a qualified health worker. Cultural and traditional beliefs which remain the big hindrance should also be addressed accordingly.
Delivering from home puts the life of the mother and the baby at risk. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with health partners, has devised a national mother and child healthcare plan, which requires all pregnant women to give birth in a community health centre or hospital. But this has not stopped pregnant women from delivering in their homes putting the life of the mother and the un-born baby at risk. This plan should be aggressively pursued by all stakeholders, especially leaders at the local level. Many of the women who shun health centres are in the rural areas.
Government has decentralised healthcare and this means that every expectant mother can easily access a health centre within their locality. Delivering from a health centre will help reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country. The Ministry of Health should increase awareness campaigns and work hand-in-hand with community health workers to address the challenge.