Prioritizing Emergency Obstetric and Newborn care in Uganda

Session: Demanding Accountability for Quality Maternal and Newborn Health Services: Lessons and Best Practices

Presenter: Robina Biteyi, White Ribbon Alliance Uganda
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Background: The Government of Uganda committed to ensuring that by 2015 all sub-county and county health centers will provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care services (BEmONC) and half of county health centers will provide comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (CEmONC) services. By 2013, despite the Government’s commitment, health centers remained understaffed and ill equipped.

Methodology: WRA Uganda brought together district leaders, community members, midwives, and District Health Officers to conduct health facility assessments in 43 government-funded health centers in the districts of Kabale, Lira, and Mityana. WRA Uganda mobilized citizens by engaging them in dialogues about their rights to EmONC and supporting them to influence planning and budgeting process at district level. In addition WRA Uganda supported District Health Officers to utilize the collected evidence to prepare annual health plans and budgets and worked with the government to review bottlenecks in the procurement process and develop solutions to better meet the needs of each district.

Results: As a result of WRA’s work, the Government of Uganda provided an 18% salary increase for enrolled midwives, nurses, lab and anesthetic assistants, as well as a 13% salary increase for registered midwives, nurses, anesthetic officers, theatre assistants, lab technicians, and medical officers. In addition the government conducted a nation‐wide rapid assessment of staffing at health centers with a plan to recruit 2,400 health workers. Mityana District secured newborn resuscitation devices, delivery instrument sets and blood pressure machines. Kabale District, among other things, recruited and placed a medical doctor in every health center in the district and installed solar lighting in maternity wards.

Conclusion: As a result of the WRA Uganda campaign, the Government of Uganda accelerated progress on its commitment and more women now have access to lifesaving emergency obstetric and newborn care.