Every year, there are an estimated 1.6 million births, 5,900 maternal deaths and 34,000 newborn deaths in Uganda1.
While the country has made significant strides in improving maternal health since 1990, a Ugandan woman's lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old girl will eventually die from a maternal cause – is 1 in 442, dozens of times greater than that of high-income countries like the U.S. and Norway.
Maternal and newborn deaths are largely preventable and are indicative of inaccessible and poor-quality health care facilities, inadequacies of the health system and low demand for and utilization of maternal and newborn health services. For example, although 93 percent of Ugandan women have at least one antenatal care visit, only 57 percent give birth in the presence of a skilled health worker3.
In January 2012, the Ugandan Ministry of Health identified four pilot districts for Saving Mothers, Giving Life: Kabarole, Kibaale, Kamwenge and Kyenjojo. They were selected because of the strong leadership and commitment of the local government, the availability of existing United States government platforms in each district and the connection to a common regional referral hospital which, combined with the intensified efforts of Saving Mothers, Giving Life to decrease maternal and newborn mortality, could have an immediate and significant impact. The Initiative directly supports the Government of Uganda's Roadmap to Accelerate Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality and Morbidity.
In the spring of 2014, Saving Mothers, Giving Life announced an expansion into six additional districts in Uganda (see map for geographical details). As part of this expansion, the Initiative is also enhancing its focus in a range of areas of implementation. It is:
- Placing an added emphasis on newborn healthcare by focusing on improvements in intrapartum care, including the use of antenatal corticosteroids, neonatal resuscitation, essential newborn care and the management of low-birth-weight babies
- Improving district-based training and mentoring of health workers in collaboration with the Ugandan government and local ob/gyns
- Implementing and utilizing the maternal/perinatal death surveillance and response system
- Supporting local health workers and officials to collect, analyze and use data to improve service use and performance
- Working with public- and private-sector facilities to improve infrastructure, equipment and the supply chain for essential medicines and supplies
- Expanding access to private-sector services through transportation vouchers and a social franchise network
- Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival. "Fulfilling the Health Agenda for Women and Children: The 2014 Report." Accessed August 5, 2014. (http://www.countdown2015mnch.org/reports-and-articles/2014-report).