Reports that a pregnant woman lost her life at Mulago teaching and referral hospital while giving birth to a new life because she didn’t bribe health officials isn’t only a national disgrace but also a crime against humanity. This is a second report that a pregnant woman lost her life this time in the eastern province under similar circumstances. This is a scandal of immense proportions that should be corrected immediately.
In the year 2000 world leaders met in New York City and adopted a Millennium Declaration including Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It was agreed, inter alia, to reduce by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015 maternal mortality ratio and reduce by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, under-five mortality rate. It was also resolved that the implementation of MDGs should be reviewed every five years: in 2005 and 2010. Uganda was unable to produce a report in time for the 2010 UN General Assembly review.
Uganda has been a major recipient of vast sums of money for the health sector including funds released under HIPC or debt relief program. Yet Uganda’s healthcare has continued to be underfunded and invaded by corruption including bribes to health officials to deliver services. Consequently, health conditions in Uganda have continued to deteriorate to the extent that maternal and child mortality rates are rising, explaining in part why Uganda didn’t submit a report for review at the General Assembly in 2010. A nurse at Mulago hospital in the children wing lamented through the media not too long ago that she was trained to save lives and not to work in a hospice where sick people go to die as is happening in Mulago hospital. And because many women are undernourished, they are producing underweight children with permanent mental and physical disabilities if they survive thereby undermining Uganda’s future development prospects.
NRM came to power promising to end all forms of suffering and even created the ministry of gender to ensure that women no longer suffer needlessly. That the health sector is so bad and a pregnant woman lost her life because of negligence a few days earlier is perhaps the reason why the president didn’t cover health in his New Year message. Sadly, and no matter what NRM government and its friends at home and abroad say, Uganda has become a country of scandals: rampant corruption, poisoning citizens, children dropping out of school because they are hungry in a country that exports huge amounts of food, human trafficking and sacrifice and women dying needlessly including in child birth. No wonder the president never reports on outcomes but processes of NRM policies and future programs. This situation can’t be tolerated anymore.
UDU recommends that the health officials involved in the death of the pregnant woman should be held accountable and the minister of health should resign immediately. If the minister doesn’t do so voluntarily, the president who is the appointing authority should take action as a lesson to others that incompetence and/or neglect of duty will not be tolerated. Ugandans and donors that pump millions of money into the health sector should demand improvements in the sector without further delay.