Uganda: NGOs Look to Fast-Track Health Services in Karamoja

Despite enormous investments from both government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), health services in Karamoja sub-region remain a myth.

A change in policies, oversight, and service delivery is a matter of urgency as poor health services continue to deter the economic development and social welfare of the region.

A 2015 HIV/Aids indicator survey in Karamoja shows little knowledge on prevention of the pandemic compared to the rest of the country. It is against this background that Usaid and World Vision have created a five-year Health Initiatives at the Workplace Activity (HIWA program) project for the region.

The programme not only tackles HIV/Aids prevention but also sanitation and mental health in the region.

"The pandemic continues to affect the most productive segments of the labor force which is affecting the human capital while mothers and babies remain vulnerable," says Sheila Kyobutungi, the Usaid program specialist on HIV/Aids prevention.

Kyobutungi was speaking during the official handover of ambulances by Usaid and World Vision to macro level districts like Moroto and Kotido. Gilbert Kamanga, the World Vision national director, cautioned the region on placing cultural differences ahead of health matters and usage of equipments provided.

Birth asphyxia contributes 26 per cent to neonatal deaths in Karamoja with majority of newborns dying on the first day of birth. Birth asphyxia is the failure to initiate and sustain breathing at birth. Many health facilities in the region lack even the most basic neonatal resuscitation equipment, the devices used to manage birth asphyxia.

According to Robina Biteyi, the national coordinator at safe motherhood agency White Ribbon Alliance, the Ideal bag and mask devices are reusable, have a pressure relief valve (to prevent lung damage), have minimal dead airspace (to increase efficiency) and are designed for easy cleaning between uses.

"Within a minute of birth, a baby who is not breathing should be ventilated with a bag and mask. Although most babies breathe spontaneously at birth," Biteyi adds.

Source: The Observer