Press Release on Maternal Health Petition
Kampala, Thursday, 07/04/2011 – a Media Briefing of civil society organizations organized by the Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization (UNHCO) has come up to speak against the unacceptable higher maternal deaths in Uganda. CONTRIBUTORY FACTORS include;
- Non provision of the basic minimum maternal health care package due to continuous underfunding of the health sector, resulting in lack of emergency obstetric care, mal-functional infrastructure including absence of ambulance and referral services, inadequate human resources for maternal health, and poor or no supervision. The situation has been compounded by poor attitude of health workers. This situation has lead to death of especially vulnerable poor women who constitute the bigger percentage of the population and are bread winners in many rural families. This is un constitutional and contrary to Articles 33(2) & (3), 20(1) & (2), 22(1) &(2), 24, 34(1), 44(a), 8A and 45 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
There is apparent evidence of mismanagement coupled with misuse of public resources and the massive administrative budget as seen in the growing number of districts and MPs and the prioritization of certain aspects including security yet maternal health and death of women and children are major security issues. Current statistics show that 16 women die every day in Uganda due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
To this extent, Civil society through their Lawyer, Kabanda & Company Advocates filed a petition through the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), Prof. Ben Twinomugisha and two families that have lost loved ones petitioned the constitutional court saying that the public are affected by the non provision of basic maternal health services and the imprudent and unethical behavior of some health workers towards mothers of this country.
The state has the obligation to provide basic health services and opportunities necessary to enhance the welfare of women to enable them realize their full potential and advancement as articulated in article 33(1) of the constitution. They explain that the expectant mothers are mal treated with lots of insults and harsh handling by the health workers in many of the government health centers who have no basic maternal commodities in contravention of Article 24 which guards against inhuman cruel and degrading treatment.
The non provision of essential maternal kits, the non supervision of the public health facilities and the resultant omission and un-professionalism of some health workers contravenes Article 33 (3) which requires the State to protect women and their rights, taking into account their unique status and natural maternal functions which are the backbone of any society. For a country like Uganda which prides itself in women emancipation, this unacceptable high rate of maternal deaths is a great shame and we call on all to stand up for women of this country.
To that extent, they are asking constitutional court to declare;
a) That it’s a violation of the right to life guaranteed under Article 22 of the constitution when death of expectant mothers result from non provision of the basic maternal health care packages in government hospitals.
b) That it is a violation of the right to health when some health workers and government fail to take the required essential care during pre and post natal periods.
c) That the inadequate human resource for maternal health including midwives and doctors, frequent stock-outs of essential medicines and supplies for maternal health and lack of Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) Services at HC III, IV and hospitals is an infringement of the right to health under objective XX,XIV(b), XV and Article 8A of the constitution.
d) That the un acceptable high maternal deaths in Uganda which are as a result of non provision of the basic minimum maternal health care and neglect by some health workers are un constitutional and against Articles 33(2) & (3), 20(1) & (2), 22(1) & (2), 24, 34(1), 44(a), and 8A of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
e) A declaration that families of mothers who have died due to negligence and non provision of the basic maternal health care package be compensated as a redress measure for violation of their rights.