Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Traditional Birth Attendants-TBAs are still active in Hoima district despite the ban on their services by government in 2010.
Government outlawed the services of TBAs with the hope of reducing maternal and infant mortality in the country.
According to health officials in the district, several expectant mothers opt for services of TBAs as opposed to visiting health facilities run by trained and skilled experts.
The practice is common among expectant mothers in rural areas in the oil-rich Buseruka, Bombo and Kigorobya sub counties.
Rostico Akugizibwe, in charge of Buseruka Health center III, says health officials in the sub county have embarked on a massive campaign to rally expectant mothers to deliver from health facilities.
He says before they launched the campaign in December last year, they could receive only 25 expectant mothers in need of antenatal services each month but the number has now increased to over 50 mothers.
Akugizibwe says only a few TBAs can detect a problem early enough and refer an expectant mother to a hospital for proper attention.
He says that by the time such mothers are brought to the hospital, they are either dead or cannot survive surgery.
Akugizibwe cites complications like when a mother delivers and in the process losses a lot of blood or when the baby is lying in a wrong position.
Dr. Joseph Ruonga, the Hoima District Health Officer, says all TBAs are operating illegally and must be arrested and prosecuted.
He says there is need to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase the availability, accessibility, and affordability of delivery care services in the district.
Jackline Tumusiime, a resident of Kyakaboga in Buseruka sub county says they are forced to embrace the services of TBAs due to lack of proper care from skilled workers in the facilities. She says TBAs are more supportive and encouraging.
She says some nurses in government facilities are too arrogant and harsh to the extent of slapping expectant mothers more especially those in labour, which forces them to abandon health facilities.
Jovia Nyamaizi, a resident of Kigorobya says at times men fail to provide the necessary requirements like gloves and mama kits among others.
She says mothers who turn up at government health facilities without these requirements are turned away by nurses, which isn’t the case with TBAs.
Joselyne Kabanyoro, a resident of Kiryamboga landing site in Buseruka sub county, says most expectant mothers are compelled to seek the services of TBAs because they are within reach and found within their communities unlike government facilities, which are located in distant places.
Ali Tinkamayire, the Buseruka sub county LC 3 chairperson, says Health education strategies are required to increase community awareness about the importance of seeking services from professional health care givers.
According to the Ministry of Health’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Sharpened Plan for Uganda 2016-2020, about 416,000 women are still not assisted by a skilled birth attendant.
Every day, 15 women die in Uganda from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, 94 babies are stillborn and 81 newborn babies die. This brings the number to 69, 5701 deaths each year due to complications during pregnancy, childbirth and in the first month.
Maternal health remains a serious global challenge in spite of decades of advocacy and investments in improving access to maternal and reproductive health.