By Edward Akaki
Napak district registered a 72% improvement in access to maternal health services last year. This was confirmed to our reporter by the District Health Officer Dr. Timothy Teko who attributed this to the improved coverage by health workers to the hard-to-reach areas through community outreaches.
Dr Timothy said since this year began, the numbers have been fluctuating due to the migratory tendencies of the people, moving to their farmlands far away from the nearest health facilities.
He said the top two facilities that are performing well are Matany Hospital and Apeitolim HCII which register on average 50 deliveries per month meanwhile the rest keep fluctuating depending on how the population is in an area.
Dr. Timothy also attributed this improvement to the facelift given to most health centers and also the capacity building of the available personnel. He said insecurity that has had a major effect on most health facilities as most people fear that they may be attacked by warriors.
With the staffing level of midwives in Napak district almost complete, the health facilities are performing very well regarding maternal health care.
Karamoja health care situation.
Though notable progress has been made in the achievement of key health indicators in the country, the health sector in the Karamoja region is lagging behind the rest of Uganda according to UNFPA 2018.
There is limited access to health facilities in Karamoja. The region has 126 health centres; a majority (63 per cent) is HC IIs, 1 regional referral hospital and 4 general hospitals. Only 65 per cent of the established staff positions are filled (MOH, 2015).
The health sector in Karamoja faces challenges of staff retention given its remoteness, poor infrastructure and limited electricity coverage. Whereas 86 per cent of the Ugandan population access healthcare within a 5 km radius, in Karamoja, only 17 per cent of the population are within the 5km kilometre recommended distance.
A referral is the most affected, with communities having to walk between 20-30 kilometres to access referral services. Given limited coverage, there are about 20,000 people per health unit, with 50,000 people per doctor. Midwives are a very critical cadre in improving maternal health outcomes, however, there are 16,882 people per midwife or nurse, far higher than the WHO target of 1 midwife for every 175 deliveries.