Nabbanja orders arrest of traditional birth attendants operating in Kakumiro

Nabbanja orders arrest of traditional birth attendants operating in Kakumiro
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Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has issued a directive for the arrest of any traditional birth attendants (TBAs) found practicing illegally in Kakumiro District.

In 2010, the government banned TBAs from providing assistance to expectant mothers in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.

The decision to arrest TBAs comes in response to ongoing reports of mothers opting not to deliver at government health facilities.

Records indicate that only 47% of mothers in the district are giving birth with the assistance of trained health workers.

During a meeting with local leaders from Kibijo and Kyabasaija sub-counties in Kakumiro, held at her residence in Kakumiro town, Nabbanja instructed the police to apprehend any traditional birth attendants caught attending to mothers.

She asserted that these traditional birth attendants are partly to blame for the persistently high maternal death rates in the country, and stressed that the government cannot allow this situation to continue.

"The President declared the abolition of traditional birth attendance. These birth attendants are no longer needed," she stated.

Nabbanja directed the District Police Commander (DPC) to arrest all traditional birth attendants, emphasizing that their arrest should be ensured as soon as authorities become aware of their involvement in assisting women during childbirth.

In addition to discussing the arrest of TBAs, Nabbanja and the local leaders reviewed various government projects and programs implemented in the district.

"We have agreed to maintain collaboration and monitor the progress of government projects and programs," she remarked.

Mary Asumpta, the head of Maternal and Child Health in Kakumiro District, emphasised the crucial role of leaders in encouraging expectant mothers to deliver their babies at healthcare facilities.

"As of now, we have registered 82 traditional birth attendants with the intention of educating them about the dos and don'ts in the district," she stated.

Despite efforts to promote the utilization of healthcare facilities for childbirth, some Ugandan women still prefer the services of TBAs, despite the well-known risks involved.

The government prohibited traditional birth attendants from conducting deliveries in 2010 in an attempt to improve maternal and infant mortality rates.

However, even with the availability of free prenatal care in government hospitals, the use of TBAs remains popular and widespread.

According to the Ministry of Health's Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health Sharpened Plan for Uganda 2016-2020, approximately 416,000 women in the country do not receive assistance from skilled birth attendants annually.

In 2021, 80% of women gave birth in healthcare facilities, while 20% sought the services of traditional birth attendants.

TBAs have been a prominent presence in many rural parts of Uganda for many years.

Nevertheless, concerns have repeatedly been raised about the quality of care they provide and the potential risks they pose to women's lives.

When faced with complications during pregnancy or delivery, many women in rural areas continue to choose high-risk options such as home births or assistance from traditional birth attendants.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) key indicators report for the sixth Demographic and Health Survey 2016, the maternal mortality rate stands at 336 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Although this represents a decline from the 2011 figure of 438 deaths per 100,000 live births, the number of maternal deaths remains unacceptably high.

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