Shortage of blood contributes to Maternal deaths

Shortage of blood contributes to Maternal deaths and It is extremely difficult for women to obtain blood at some of health facilities in Uganda

Nearly all Maternal deaths in Uganda are preventable, with lack of blood, many Women get complications that require immediate medical attention and women who experience complications during pregnancy never receive the care they need

In Uganda, according to the UDHS 2016, for every 1,000 births, there are just over 3 maternal deaths. Currently, the maternal mortality ratio is 336 per 100,000 live births which is still far below the Health Sector’s development plans target of 121 deaths per 100,000 live births

The shortage of blood in health centers is believed to be one of the major factors contributing to high death rates among women and young girls giving birth

On Thursday, 6th, Oxfarm Uganda, Center for Health Human Rights and Development, the coalition to stop maternal mortality launched a new campaign in Gulu District dubbed `TimeToCare4Blood’ that is aiming at pressurizing Government to increase funding towards the health sector and blood Bank programmes

There was a public dialogue were over hundreds of Gulu residents and other delegates across the country attended and later; advocates, district officials and other stakeholders went to the streets in Gulu showing solidarity and protesting over shortage of blood in most Health facilities in Uganda

Photo by M Arthur: Activists and residents of Gulu holding placards during the peaceful demonstration march

Girls who give birth early are vulnerable, there is equally lack of access to safe blood and inadequacies in the management of essential drugs such as Oxytocin that would prevent women from losing blood during childbirth and Government of Uganda should take practical steps and mobilize more public revenues to support the health sector especially the blood bank – Grace Namugambe from the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute said during the launch of the campaign

During the public dialogue at Gulu District headquarters, Joseph Olwenye from Oxfam Uganda said that to reduce the inequality gap, the government needs to ensure Ugandans get good quality health care and should be accessible but most important, it should also ensure that key programmes like Blood Transfusion Services are efficient in tackling the persistently high maternal mortality due to blood shortage

It can be scary to hear the death of a mother or a sister and you may feel helpless when watching a woman or a girl go through difficulties but offering your support can make a big difference. At the time to care for the blood campaign launch, there were lots of activities that took place like Blood donation, signing the petition, and Radio talk shows sensitizing the masses

So many women and girls in different health facilities die due to a lack of blood, the whole country is affected but there is a huge blood shortage facing some regional referral hospitals like Gulu, Arua and this as continued to cause deaths; in about one week 10 patients died in Arua maternity ward, therefore, we demand the Government to increase funding to Health sector and blood banks – Ms. Anna Lumbasi, the programme officer for the Centre for Health Human Rights and Development said during the public dialogue

The crisis of blood shortage is something that we can avoid. We shouldn’t wait for a crisis. Let have a more comprehensive plan for it. We can do this better team Uganda – Charles Owekmeno, National Program Coordinator at SRHR Alliance Uganda

Given these facts, Uganda needs at least 410,000 units of safe blood annually as recommended by the World Health Organisation and if you haven’t signed the petition, here is the link

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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