Uganda still stands out among the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa with the highest numbers of maternal mortality and morbidity with 16 mothers dying daily
In an effort to prevent and mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on Maternal and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, The Association for Rehabilitation and Re-orientation of Women for Development (TERREWODE) has joined the campaign against COVID-19.
Dr. Josephine Namugenyi, the medical director at TERREWODE community women’s medical hospital-Soroti, told Aica that they are currently exploring working relations with the districts COVID-19 task force and health facilities to strengthen referrals and access to health care, for vulnerable women and girls including those that may need to be put in institutional quarantine.
Dr Namugenyi revealed that there has already been an increase in violence against women and girls, and obstetric fistula clients are most affected.
“There is also restricted access to Sexual Reproductive healthcare in communities; for instance, limited access to Emergency Obstetric Care, access to sexual violence emergency support and Post Exposure Prophylaxis services and the rural areas are worst affected,” said Dr Namugenyi.
According to Dr Namugenyi, the essential 24/7 ambulance service will help prevent childbirth injuries and maternal mortality in Uganda until this emergency passes.
In an effort to stem the spread of Coronavirus, they have availed Terrewode Women’s hospital an ambulance and field van to support the work of the districts COVID-19 Task Force.
Alice Emasu Seruyange, the executive director of TERREWODE, explained that the entity will strive to ensure safety of mothers and availability of reliable medical services to expectant mothers, those with obstetric fistula and survivors of the condition during the pandemic.
“We regret that our national efforts to eliminate obstetric fistula in the country have been halted by the COVID-19 and it is clear that we shall experience a backlash in the campaign,” she said.
According to her, more fistulas are being caused daily and some mothers are perishing due to preventable childbirth complications simply because this situation is currently unbearable.
She however disclosed to Aica that observed that the country had made significant progress in treating fistula case backlog that stood at 200,000 women and girl sufferers, to 175,000 to-date.
She further advised the general public to partner with the district task force to fight the potential spread of Coronavirus and support the victims of fistula.
“We appeal to the Covid-19 Task force at all levels, our leaders and the general communities to render support and care for the vulnerable members of our society. Let us not disown them in the face of difficult times,” Emasu emphasized.
What is Obstetric Fistula
Obstetric Fistula is a grave maternal, social and human rights issue and suffering that results from neglect and failed maternal care. It is a major child birth injury and disability to women and girls who survive death during a difficult childbirth, altering the lives of 175,000 women countrywide, the majority of whom are in rural Uganda.
The development of obstetric Fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality:
According to UNFPA, there are about 1,900 new women and girls are affected each year. It is mostly a sequel of young mothers rubbing shoulders with death as they strive to deliver babies.
Uganda still stands out among the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa with the highest numbers of maternal mortality and morbidity with 16 mothers dying daily while at least 2 of them ending up with a fistula due to preventable complications of child birth. Prevention of obstetric fistula and maternal deaths stilled remains our challenge and any slight set back escalates the situation.