What is Uganda's budget for this year's presidential swearing in ceremony and how much does it cost to save the 16-20 women who will possibly die in childbirth that day? 


Sri Lanka is one of the low income countries in South Asia, but has been hailed for progressively reducing its maternal mortality ratios and infant mortality rates over the years. In 2015, its Maternal mortality rate was 30/100, 000 live births (Uganda is at 310/100, 000 live births- 2015)


Its success story puts to rest the common rhetoric that the sky high maternal mortality rates and poor health indicators in the developing countries are really all about the amount of money available to go around. Sri Lanka’s success story has been around for a while and should be a challenge and encouragement to other developing countries like my homeland Uganda, that, with multi-sectorial approach, and more importantly with political will, putting in works and not merely on paper and words the policies and strategies, and diligently allocating the manicure funds available for maternal and child health, significant progress can be made in reducing how many women and babies die in pregnancy and child birth.


The government of Sri Lanka decided to and continues to provide physical and human resources adequately to hospitals, trains and equips medical and nursing staff and it promises and delivers on investing funds on the healthcare needs of its people. Its motto is that ‘a loss of a life could not be measured in terms of money’ their Health Minister was quoted.


I wish I could say the same for Uganda. Alas, it is a different story. With the upcoming Presidential swearing in, thousands of dollars will be spent as the hospitals lie in ruins, and women and children suffer needless and preventable deaths in hospitals, as medical personnel look on helpless, and unable to provide a much needed lifesaving medication or operation for lack of resources, and at the end of the day, 16-20 women and likely their babies, will die.


Uganda failed to meet the MDG 4 and 5, and with the current emphasis of government on security, creation of more districts and structures, bringing more politics and ‘patriotism’ to the people, one fears that even more, the will to improve the health of the people is at the bottom of the pile of priorities.


With poor records in most of our Health facilities, even with the MMR of 310/100,000 live births in 2015, we know that most of the deaths are not captured by the health information management system which is the source of the maternal mortality estimates. This begs the question ‘how many more mothers died at home or on the way or never made it to a health facility are counted or estimated’.


Will the President pledge to;

  1. Improve roads to facilitate access to health units
  2. Provide functional ambulances for referral Hospitals
  3. Provide resources for communication to health units and carrying out public sensitization campaigns.
  4. Have a political will to build a better health for all Ugandans especially the women and children?

It really could be that all these are trivial and the real priority will be to talk about the past   Amin regime, Colonialism, and the Bush war.

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