Ubos survey: Maternal, infant death rates drop

Kampala- The numbers of mothers who die while giving birth has reduced from 438 to 368 deaths per 100, 000 live births.

The latest figures are contained in the 2016 Uganda Health Demographic and Health Survey released yesterday by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) officials. The survey conducted between June 12 and December 18 last year, shows a slight drop in the maternal mortality and a significant drop in under five mortality rates.

The study, which is the sixth since the first one in 1989, shows a decline in infant mortality rate from 54 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births in the period. Also, under-five mortality ratio reduced from 90 to 64 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, this number excludes deaths that were due to accidents or violence.

“The 2016 UDHS asked women about the deaths of their sisters that occurred during pregnancy, delivery, or 42 days after the delivery,” said Ms Helen Nviri, the Ubos director of population and social statistics while presenting preliminary results.

While, maternal mortality has stagnated for a long time, Dr Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, said the positive trends towards reduction shows it can be reduced further if challenges of delivery in health facilities are addressed.

“It’s important to note that our maternal mortality was 438 per 100,000 live births but according to the 2016 UDHS, it has reduced to 336 per 100,000 live births and this is a reduction of more than 100 and it is quite good,” Dr Aceng said. “It’s motivating to the people in the health sector to see that the investments by government and development partners have yielded good results,” she added.

She also decried the low per capita investment by the government into the health sector which has affected implementation of some initiatives even as she insists that increased revenue will soon address the lack of funds.

The study also shows a decline in the fertility rate from 7.4 per cent in 1988 down to 5.4 per cent in 2016. This means that a woman in Uganda can have about five children in her life time. This piece of data is consistent with the National Population and Housing Census results released last year.

The study attributes the reduction in fertility rate to an increase in contraceptive use among married women aged between 15 and 49.

Currently, contraceptive use stands at 39 per cent down from 30 per cent in 2011. Among sexually active and unmarried women, the report puts contraceptive use at 51 percent.

Geographically, Karamoja sub-region registered the lowest use of contraceptives among married women at 7.3 per cent compared to the highest in northcentral region standing at 47.4 percent.

Kigezi and Ankole region also registered a high use of birth control methods standing at 46.5 and 43.1 percent.

According to Ms Nviri, the 2016 UDHS was intended to provide basic demographic and health indictors on fertility levels, marriage, and sexual activity, fertility preferences, awareness and use of family planning methods, breastfeeding practices, nutrition, childhood and maternal mortality and HIV/Aids, among others.

The study seeks to assist policy-makers and programme managers in evaluating and designing programmes and strategies for improving health of Ugandans.

On HIV/Aids, Ubos found that 83 per cent of women aged 15 and 49 had ever tested and received their results compared to 70 per cent among men. In the last 12 months only, 55 per cent of the women had tested and collected their results compared to 47 per cent of men.

The study shows high levels of promiscuity among men as opposed to women with about 21 per cent of men having multiple sexual partners compared to two per cent among women. Only 46 percent of the youth aged between 15 and 24, had knowledge on HIV/Aids.

The nutrition status indicated that about 29 per cent of the children were stunted (too short for their age) while 11 per cent were underweight.

However, the nutrition trend shows a reduction of stunted children from 33 per cent in 2011 to 29 per cent in 2016. About 53 per cent of the children and 32 per cent of the children are anemic.
First deputy prime minister Moses Ali, who launched the study, said the latest findings should be translated into actionable initiatives to improve the health Ugandans.

According to World Health Organisation, Uganda was one of two countries selected for a pilot project — Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) — to rapidly reduce maternal deaths through community and facility-based interventions. The reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates has partly been attributed to this new initiative.

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