Last week, Daily Monitor reported that the National Medical Stores (NMS) is stuck with 20 containers of Mama Kits, an all-in-one package that contains everything needed to help provide a clean and safe delivery for pregnant women. This story represents the despondency that defines Uganda’s healthcare delivery.
Mr Moses Kamabare, the general manager of NMS, shocked MPs on Parliament’s Health Committee who are analysing the 201516 health budget, when he revealed that the Mama Kits – more than 400,000 – were imported at Shs1.2 billion from The Netherlands. And an additional 180,000 Kits worth more than Shs540 million are also lying idle in stores.
Kamabare’s statement that NMS does not know where to put [the Mama Kits] because “we have run out of space” is an indictment on the in-charges of health facilities who are responsible for making orders for essential supplies from NMS in line with their needs and NMS delivery schedules.
The NMS boss was also surprised that health facilities around the country don’t have Mama Kits. This should not surprise anyone. This newspaper has published many accounts of pregnant women sent away from health facilities because they do not have Mama Kits others are told to buy the kits that are supposed to be distributed at no cost.
Just last month, pregnant mothers in Lira District accused health workers of selling to them Mama Kits when they go for antenatal services, forcing those who cannot afford the kits to seek services of traditional birth attendants where conditions for safe delivery and emergency procedures in case of complications, are not guaranteed.
Several reports in the media have drawn attention to shocking tales of pregnant mothers turned away from public health centres because they didn’t have money to buy delivery kits. How is Uganda going to reduce maternal mortality if basic safe motherhood interventions such as provision of Mama Kits cannot be implemented due to negligence?
It was a Ministry of Health proposal – in 2012 – that women who deliver in public health facilities get free Mama Kits. The scheme was to ensure that the supply for Mama Kits matched the number of mothers that give birth yearly. What then explains the fact that women are required to pay for the kits? Why are kits kept under lock and key when pregnant women are being sent out of some health facilities to buy Mama Kits?
These are questions health facilities that have no Mama Kits should answer and the ministry should take up this critical issue. This is negligence of duty and the responsible officials who are risking lives of pregnant mothers should be held accountable.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor