Kampala — The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, has rebuked health workers, accusing them of unprofessionalism that has at times resulted in maternal deaths in the country.
Dr Atwine was speaking at the Essential Training in Operative Obstetrics by the American college obstetricians and gynecologists in Kampala yesterday.
She said many nurses and doctors either abscond from duty or take more than 12 hours to attend to expectant mothers within their facilities.
"We have lost mothers because of post-maternal hemorrhage. Because someone did not administer medicine in time," Dr Atwine said yesterday at Makerere University School of Public Health.
"I know many people say "oh our doctors are not facilitated very well, lack motivation,' but I remember government increased the salaries of doctors at Health Centre IV and it actually caused a shift. People moved from hospitals to Health Centre IV because of better pay but did we see improved maternal care outcome?" she wondered.
At 135 deaths per 1,000 live births, Uganda ranks one of the unsafe countries in the world to deliver from. An estimated 28 per cent of maternal deaths in the country occur among women and girls under 24 years.
Some of the leading factors; include teenage pregnancies, not attending antenatal care and lack of enough essential commodities in health facilities.
Dr Atwine, however, says health workers are not doing enough with the little resources available.
"Inadequate funding is a problem but my song has been can we prioritise the little we have and make sure that it goes to areas that impact the sector? There is erosion of professionalism," Dr Atwine said.
Dr Annettee Nakimuli, the head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Makerere University, did not directly respond to Dr Atwine but said they are overwhelmed by mothers who now seek to deliver in the hands of professionals.
This would be a good thing, but she said it should be marched with proper training of caregivers.
"Our focus should be within in the facility now. It is our job to make sure that every health workers has the right skills," Dr Nakimuli said.
Dr Imelda Namagembe, the president of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda, said some mothers continue to die while giving birth partly because of carelessness and not seeking antenatal care. "Our people tend to prepare last minute and when there are complications," Dr Namagembe said.