The buzz of activity that alighted Kisowera primary school along Kayunga Road in Mukono district on Monday the same day senior four candidates sat their first National examination was one to continuously remember. Students from different primary and secondary schools, civil servants, Government Officials, non-profit organizations, health personnel among various other attendees all came together to commemorate the National Safe motherhood day.
A skit on safe delivery on how a pregnant woman due to give birth visits hospital and isn’t given the attention she seeks was acted out, this character then loses her life or her baby. This scenario is unfortunately daily bread in most of our hospitals within the country today.
So query is; A year after the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development was announced, How much progress are we making towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals especially Goal 3 targets that speak of Good health and well-being?
According to Uganda Demographic Health Statistics (UDHS), 16 mothers lose their lives daily. This as was emphasized by Rosa Malango, the UN resident coordinator who stated this is not a good image in the maternal health statistics of a developing country.
For a country to achieve a developed status, its health system should be strengthened with majority of services accessible by its citizens.- Rosa Malango
So what then could be the problem?
In Uganda today, 1 in 4 girls aged 15-19 years is either pregnant or has already had their first child. Furthermore, we still have cases where young girls are forced into early marriages without much of a choice to decide when or whom to marry.
These young girls are usually not physically, psychologically or emotionally ready to carry child so they face stigmatizing and esteem demoralizing situations like dropping out of school, they become social disgraces and misfits among friends, they then subscribe to a life of poverty because as their guardians neglect them, they equally have no source of income.
The mind blowing fact is a pregnant teenager will face 5 times the number of complications faced by a mature pregnant mother and as such face the risk of obstetric fistula (leakage from their private parts) and inevitably, they could lose their lives during child-birth.
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports in her address read by the state minister for health, Hon. Joyce Kaducu said safe mother-hood though may mean improving the conditions under which women give birth, it also advocates for empowering young girls to stay in school and not be swayed away from working towards their dreams. She equally urged parents to invest in the girl-child as effortlessly as they would the boy-child.
She concluded her speech stating that “Mothers are the Nation and how you raise them right from the start will determine their role in sustaining the nation”.
In my opinion; Young people make up the fastest and largest growing population in the country and how we meet their increasing needs will equally determine their future. Safe motherhood has more to it than safe delivery, it goes back to how young people are empowered with information about their sexual reproductive health and rights.
Also you can check out the various projects Reach A Hand Uganda has/is implementing like “Let Girls Be Girls– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBFm-nxHUdQ” and “Better Life For Girls in partnership with UNFPA and KOICA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKUMXnfOAec
Everyone has a role to play, when talk is about the girl-child, this doesn’t mean the boys have been sidelined, it takes two to tango but for realization of development, every one of us needs to take part in this tango.