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Antenatal visits, deliveries drop in health facilities in Teso

Antenatal care. Courtesy photo

Soroti, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The number of mothers seeking antenatal care services and delivering in health facilities across Teso sub region has dropped since the Covid-19 lockdown was announced.

At Serere health center, a proposed district hospital, only 965 mothers came for antenatal care in April compared to 1,267 in March when the lockdown was announced. Records at the facility also indicate that only 170 babies were delivered at the facility in April compared to the 203 in March.

The maternity ward at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital that used to receive more than 60 mothers on a daily basis had only 32 mothers on Wednesday. The midwife who was on duty told our reporter that a few beds can now be found empty in the ward, a situation that she notes has never existed throughout her experience in the hospital.

Joyce Alenyo, a mother from Amuria district who at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital says she was surprised to find the ward almost empty. “I have been here a number of times but never observed this emptiness. I call it emptiness because those other days, you couldn’t even find space put your head at night. Attendants would sleep on the verandah, sometimes with mothers on labour”, she said.

Alenyo told our reporter that it is not easy to move to health facilities without transport especially boda- bodas that have been helpful. She explains that the boda- boda cyclists have parked their bikes and the few available are too expensive.

Dr. Francis Odeke, the Serere District Health Officer says the trend of visits to health facilities is worrying. He urges parents to continue seeking health services during pregnancy and after delivery. Dr. Odeke explained that even after putting up emergency vehicles for mothers, a good number is reluctant to seek health services.

Benedet Akol, the Serere district vice chairperson says some mothers are reluctant to seek health services in health facilities due to the absence medicine and divided attention of health workers because of Covid-19.

Uganda’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has consistently been one of the highest in the world with 440 deaths per 100,000 live births according to UN Agency for Children–UNICEF.

The report indicates that women in rural areas in Uganda face multiple barriers to accessing critical routine and lifesaving maternal health care.

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