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Lango Registered 4% Reduction in Maternal Mortality in Five Years :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Lango Registered 4% Reduction in Maternal Mortality in Five Years

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been supporting districts and health facilities in Lango sub-region in delivering comprehensive health services through the Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services (RHITES-North) Lango project.
Mothers inside the refurbished maternity ward at Orum HCIV in Otuke district (Photo by Immaculate Amony)

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Lango sub-region in Uganda has recorded a significant decrease in maternal and child mortality rates over the past five years. Maternal mortality has decreased by 4%, while child mortality has decreased by 36%. In 2018, the sub-region recorded approximately 137 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births due to pregnancy-related complications, but this has since reduced to less than 90 per 100,000 live births. 

The number of women delivering babies annually at health facilities increased from 39,000 in 2018 to 80,000 in 2022, resulting in healthier babies and fewer maternal and infant deaths. Dr. Patrick Buchan Ocen, the District Health Officer for Lira District, attributed this success to the improved health workforce, recruitment of new health workers, and enhanced infrastructure at health facilities.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been supporting districts and health facilities in Lango sub-region in delivering comprehensive health services through the Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services (RHITES-North) Lango project. 

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Dr. Ocen stated that the gap in service delivery had significantly reduced, and the distance to accessing comprehensive emergency health care services had been greatly reduced. He mentioned that previously, people from Ogur and Otuke were brought to Lira Regional Referral Hospital, which is more than 100km away.

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However, Dr. Ocen also mentioned that maintaining the equipment and facilities is now the responsibility of the respective district local governments. During the RHITES-North Lango project period, 323,924 out of the 611,305 mothers completed four antenatal visits, and there were 75,926 institutional deliveries. Early antenatal care attendance by pregnant women increased from 21% in 2018 to 47% in 2022.

Pamela Donggo, the Deputy Chief of Party and the Technical Director at the USAID RHITES-North Lango explained that the achievement could only be possible by addressing the infrastructural challenges of health facilities. A state-of-the-art theater was constructed at Orum HCIV, and the maternity wards at Orum HCIV, Ogur in Lira, and Dokolo HCIV in the Dokolo district were refurbished. The maternity wards are well equipped with fully-fledged Neonatal Intensive Care Units, and the facilities have been handed over to the districts for use. 

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Some beneficiaries of these facilities, especially pregnant women, expressed excitement about the new facilities, with the hope that they will continue to improve maternal and child service delivery. Brenda Akello, an 8-month pregnant woman, who was considering going to Lira Regional Referral Hospital to deliver, changed her mind after seeing the new theater and maternity ward at Orum HCIV. 

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The other parents who have already welcomed their new babies in the new structures also shared their excitement.   

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However, Francis Abola, the Otuke District chairperson, urged the Ministry of Health to consider upgrading all HCIVs in the sub-region, especially Orum HCIV, to a district hospital because of its modern equipment and strategic location. 

He also cited the lack of a standby generator for the operating theater as a challenge affecting health service delivery because the existing generator had broken down. The RHITES-North Lango project, which ended in December 2022, aimed to improve access to and quality of health services, adoption of health behaviors by the communities, and also improve the use of strategic information for health services

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