By Michael Mubangizi
The plight of women and children dominated the Uganda Christian University - Save the Mother’s Maternal and Child Health Conference held on Friday February 23, 2018 at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
Speaker after speaker highlighted the deplorable health care system of women and children, noting that it threatens their very existence. From lack of drugs in hospitals, sustained deaths of women and children from preventable complication of pregnancy and child birth leaving an estimated 1.5 million children without a mother annually, participants questioned why mothers continue to die in the process of giving birth?
“Some women live without uterus because theirs raptured during child birth,” observed one medical doctor.
During the conference, one lady (name withheld) shared a touching testimony of living with fistula which she acquired because of delays of medical workers at a national referral hospital to attend to her in 2015 in the process of giving birth to her second child, “since then, I am leaking up to now. Like a baby, I have to move with diapers,” she revealed.
The call of conference participants was very clear; “No mother or child should die”. The seminar ended with more assurances and ambassadors committing to champion the wellbeing of women and children. For instance, retired Archbishop of the Church of Uganda and former Chancellor, Uganda Christian University, Bishop Henry Luke Orombi offered to promote their wellbeing, “I stand to advocate for the wellbeing of women and children. As long as my mouth is still speaking, I will speak.”
Using the example of Adam in the Bible who had only three children; Cain, Abel and Seth, he made a case of smaller families. Bishop Orombi was responding to a keynote address speaker Dr. Jotham Musinguzi who had identified high population growth and high fertility rates as problems for Uganda.
Alumni impact stories
During the conference, UCU - Save the Mothers alumni shared their field impact experiences. From establishing maternal and newborn health projects, birth preparedness and complication readiness centres, formation of savings groups to improve birth and emergency preparedness of women; it was evident that UCU graduates are having a mark on their communities.
Save the Mothers is a charitable organization that works in partnership with Uganda Christian University to reduce the number of mothers dying through education, leadership development and mobilization of influential professionals.
Graduates of the Save the Mothers program receive a master’s degree in Public Health Leadership obtainable at UCU with a focus on improving maternal health.
Different professionals needed
In a bid to build a multidisciplinary team of professionals making a difference in maternal and child health, the program is looking for lawyers to advocate for women’s rights, government officials to influence local and national policies and media professionals to disseminate information about maternal health. Others are social scientists to develop new outreach programs, healthcare workers to improve access and care for mothers and babies, educators to teach the public about mothers needs, religious leaders to advocate for women’s rights and other interested professionals to use their positions and status to improve the welfare of women and children. The conference was spiced up by musical performances from Pastor Wilson Bugembe and Rema Namakula making a case for improved child and maternal health care.