Activists want more funding for newborn’s health

Activists have called for more investment in the area of newborn health, arguing that making available simple technologies such as resuscitation devices can save lives.

Resuscitation devices include Ambu bags, breathing masks and suction bulbs.

Robina Biteyi, the national coordinator of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Uganda, said a study they conducted in selected health centres III and IV across the country showed majority of the facilities did not have simple life-saving equipment for newborn babies.

“We are aocating for a policy change for the procurement of newborn resuscitation devices, which have largely been dependent on projects from donors. Without such devices, newborn survival will continue to be a challenge,” said Biteyi.

She added that every skilled attendant should be able to resuscitate a baby who is not breathing.
Although most babies breathe spontaneously at birth, up to 10 per cent require some assistance to start breathing.

First Lady’s call
Meanwhile, First Lady Janet Museveni said Uganda has made progress in improving the health of women and girls, but several cultural barriers still stand in the way.

“Women still find access to health facilities during pregnancy a challenge. Cultural and religious beliefs still have a strong bearing on the reproductive health of women in the country,” Ms Museveni said, while officiating at a dinner ahead of a global consultative meeting to review the progress so far made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The review meeting will take place on Wednesday. Ms Museveni added: “Women still find it difficult to access education. Teenage pregnancies in Uganda are on the increase. You find girls as young as 10 getting pregnant, which have negative consequences on the economy.” Eric Hazard, the campaign director of the Saving Newborn Life, an initiative of Save the Children, said Uganda was selected to host the MDG review meeting ahead of next year’s deadline because of strides the country has so far made in achieving a number of MDG goals.

“We feel Uganda has performed quite well in achieving some of the MDGs, especially when it comes to reduction of newborn and child deaths.

The outlook
In Uganda, 106 newborn babies die every day due to preventable causes. Of these, 26 per cent die on their first day of life due to failure to breath or maintain breathing, a condition known as birth asphyxia. Health experts say these deaths can be easily prevented if resuscitation devices are made available at all health facilities.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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