By Grace Amme & Raymond Baguma

KAMPALA, July 11 — Uganda’s Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have launched a one-year national campaign to reduce the number of Ugandan teenage mothers who die while giving birth.

Addressing journalists here Thursday, the State Minister for Health, Sarah Opendi, said that the ministry had a target to reduce maternal mortality.

Ahead of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline, Uganda has made progress in reducing maternal mortality from 550 per 100,000 live births, down to 438 per 100,000 live births.

However, Opendi said, despite the improvements, maternal mortality remained high with about 6,000 women dying every year from pregnancy and related complications.

Furthermore, according to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) of 2011, of the 6,000 mothers who die from birth-related complications, about 24 per cent are teenagers. This translates into 1,440 teenage mothers dying during childbirth.

“The Ministry of Health has identified teenage pregnancies as one of the causes of this high maternal mortality,” said Opendi. “Teenage pregnancy implies that the individual is carrying a baby while she is still below the age of 18. This makes her prone to experiencing many risks that endanger her health and that of her unborn baby.” — NNN-NEW VISION

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