Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not another needless mother's death in Uganda Campaign

(Press Release) Hundreds of activists in Kampala, Mityana and Arua will mark the first day of an historic Constitutional Court Petition against the Government of Uganda on maternal mortality. In Kampala, health experts, people with HIV, medical students, religious leaders, concerned Ugandans and others will gather at Constitutional Court with signs and banners reading “Not another needless death: Government stop the deaths of mothers now!”

The Petition, Number 16 of 2011, argues that Government non provision of essential services for pregnant mothers and their newborns violates the fundamental obligation of the country to uphold the Constitution and defend, protect and promote the right to health and the right to life.

The Petition highlights the case of Sylvia Nalubowa, a mother in Mityana and Jennifer Anguko, a mother and District Councillor in Arua, both of whom died in childbirth. According to the activists, such cases are commonplace in Uganda. At least 16 women in Uganda die each day in childbirth or soon after—scandalously high levels of maternal mortality considering
UgandaŹ¼s widely recognized economic growth.

Neighboring countries such as Rwanda and Ethiopia have roughly equivalent gross domestic products as Uganda, but have performed far better in reducing maternal mortality rates. According to the activists, Uganda has lagged behind other countries because the Government has refused to scale up priority investments in the health sector that would save the lives of pregnant mothers.

Major factors that contribute to high direct risk of maternal death in Uganda include births unattended by trained professional health workers, lack of access to emergency obstetric care for responding to hemorrhage and other emergencies, lack of access to quality antenatal care, and lack of access to family planning services.

Lack of access to life-saving HIV treatment and to malaria prevention and treatment are also major contributors to preventable maternal deaths in Uganda. Instead of scaling up investments in these areas, the Government has either flat-lined or reduced its domestic investments.

With increased government investment and leadership, these deaths would stop. “We are fed up with the broken promises of Government that they will provide us with the blood, ambulances, medicines, and health workers that are an expression of our fundamental human rights as Ugandans,” said Mable Kukunda of UNHCO. “Now the matter is in the hands of the Constitutional Court and we are hopeful that the Justices will understand the unacceptable plight that pregnant women face in Uganda.”

Uganda on high Alert for Ebola

By Esther Nakkazi

Uganda is on high-alert on Ebola following two more deaths suspected to be from the disease. The ministry of Health says two people suffering from high-fever and unexplained bleeding died in Luweero were the first death was reported two weeks ago.

The ministry is also investigating one patient from Katwe in Kasese district who has been reported with signs of Ebola. Uganda has one case of confirmed death since Ebola broke out on May 12,2011 and 19 have been tested at the Uganda Virus Institute, Entebbe. But many more people are being monitored. The suspected districts on high alert for Ebola in Uganda are Luweero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mukono, Kampala and Wakiso.

Ebola isolation camp in Kampala

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rotary and Aga Khan University partner to improve maternal and child health in East Africa

By Esther Nakkazi

Improvement of maternal and child health in East Africa is the goal of a new strategic partnership between the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and Aga Khan University (AKU).
Under the partnership, the Rotary Foundation – the charitable arm of Rotary International -- will provide grants to Rotary clubs to establish volunteer teams to support the professional development of nursing faculty at AKU’s East Africa campuses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
“Our Rotary clubs in East Africa are eager to partner with the top-notch professionals at Aga Khan University to help ensure that mothers and their infants receive the best health care possible,” says Samuel F. Owori, of Kampala, Uganda, a member of the Rotary International Board of Directors.
“This partnership represents an immense contribution to the health and well-being of families throughout our region."
The teams will work with local Rotary clubs and AKU to carry out community service projects linking the classroom lessons to existing clinics and health care programs.
Rotary grants will also fund nursing and midwifery scholarships for students admitted to AKU’s Advanced Nursing Studies (ANS) program. Scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to be mentored through the program by local Rotary clubs.
The Aga Khan University’s ANS program was established in response to requests from East African governments to help upgrade nursing skills and build healthcare human resource capacity in the region.
Through continuing education programs, graduates are able to work in their communities to provide better quality health care services as well as lead policy development at the national level. The result is better-qualified regional healthcare professionals who are helping to build accessible, responsive and sustainable healthcare systems in East Africa.

Rotary Foundation Chair Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar said that the partnership “is an important step toward meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health.”
The UN Millennium Goals call for a 75 percent reduction in maternal deaths -- and a two-thirds reduction in the death rate of children under age five -- by 2015.
The UN says developing countries account for 99 percent of the more than 350,000 women who die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s risk of maternal death is 1 in 30, compared to 1 in 5,600 in developed countries. The same region records the highest childhood mortality rates, with one in seven dying before their fifth birthday. Worldwide, more than 9 million children under 5 die each year.
“This partnership will enable a greater number of qualified students from poor communities to benefit from our programs,” states AKU President Firoz Rasul. “Partnerships such as this one build much needed capacity in the developing world, but more importantly, they enable innovation and the creation of knowledge to address local health problems.”
Rotary International is a global humanitarian service organization, and Aga Khan University (AKU), a private, non-denominational university promoting human development through research, teaching and community service.
AKU is one of nine agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private development agencies with mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalization of historic cities.
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary clubs have been serving communities worldwide for more than a century.