Pregnant mothers in Nebbi District are giving birth from homes due to lack of transport to health centres during the lockdown, putting their lives and those of unborn babies at risk.
While no fatalities have been recorded, the leaders say nearly 38 mothers have delivered without complications from home with the help of experienced mothers. Others are seeking the services of traditional birth attendants.
“Many of our pregnant mothers in the communities have gone back to traditional birth attendants for fear of being arrested if they are seen being transported to hospitals on boda bodas,” the leaders say.
Pregnant mothers were asked to seek permission from Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) before they are transported to hospitals.
But this has been an inconvenience to many. The medical superintendent of Nebbi Hospital, Dr Justin Okwairwoth, said home deliveries have become common during the lockdown.
Dr Okwairwoth said more than 38 mothers have delivered at home for fear of being arrested.
He said in most cases, the pregnant mothers visit the hospital when they are badly off or they call for the ambulance in the process when the baby is in the outlet point, making it hard for timely rescue by the medical team to save such lives.
“We always advise our pregnant mothers not to wait for complications and then start calling for ambulance but should get prepared in advance,” Dr Okwairwoth said.
The Nebbi District chairman, Mr Emmanuel Orombi, urged the chairman of Nebbi District Covid-19 taskforce, who is also the RDC, to relax some of the conditions set at national level to allow the pregnant mothers, ARV patients and diabetic clients to be carried on boda bodas in order to access the health services.
“Our pregnant mothers, ARVs clients and TB patients are vulnerable to the harsh conditions set at the national level. So, there is need to relax some of the conditions at the district level to avoid deaths of our mothers,” Mr Orombi said.
He said most people in hard-to-reach areas are too poor to afford ambulance services, adding that some are even starving.
Mr Orombi said pregnant mothers have now resorted to walking long distances to access antenatal services and some get complications on their way.
But the Nebbi RDC, Mr Christopher Omara, said they have given priorities to pregnant women and those with health complications to use the available means of transport within their reach but with a letter from the sub-county taskforce.
“We have not restricted our pregnant mothers to using alternative means of transport to access health services but they should access the movement permit from the sub-county taskforce for immediate help in case complications arise,” Mr Omara said.
He said those who have been discharged from the hospital and are unable to walk long distances should use the discharge form to access boda bodas.