Safe Motherhood and Family Planning
Mothers are at high risk during pregnancy in Uganda, and babies face daunting odds after birth. According to UNICEF, lifetime maternal mortality in Uganda is 1 in 25. Currently, there are estimated to be over 2 million orphaned children in Uganda, many of whom were orphaned when their mothers died during childbirth.
In Iganga, the infant mortality rate is at 120 per 1,000 births, a ratio which has been stagnant for years. According to research done in the district, most newborns die during the first week of birth due to infection, respiratory distress, or complications of prematurity. Many of these deaths could be prevented given basic health education and increased access to healthcare. A study done in the Iganga District in 1999 suggested that an increase in healthcare expenditures of only 80 cents per capita would bring maternal and neonatal care up to World Health Organization Mother-Baby Package standards.
Unsafe birthing practices, when they do not simply kill, can lead to devastating injuries and diseases for both mother and child. Prolonged, unattended births lead to obstetric fistula, maternal and neonatal infections, and neonatal respiratory distress.
Education and Action
We promote safe motherhood by:
- Educating village mothers about health during pregnancy and childbirth
- Encouraging and providing family planning methods to appropriately space births or avoid unwanted or dangerous pregnancies
- Preventing obstetric fistula through village education on the cause of fistula
Our main Safe Motherhood partners are nurses from the local health centers . We bring nurses to our villages to conduct outreaches on family planning, child spacing, and birth control options. They educate, pass out condoms, and, at the end of the session, offer free birth control options to all women who wish it. As the birth control (both pills and injection) comes in three-month doses, we conduct quarterly visits.
During Summer 2009, UVP also had a volunteer team which worked solely on Safe Motherhood initiatives. They conducted stellar Safe Motherhood workshops in each of our healthy villages, and also worked to educated staff at our 5 Health Centers.