Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Infant mortality rates fall- Survey

Preliminary Uganda Demographic Health Survey report 2011 results are out, showing slightly improvement in the maternal and child health indicators.

The number of children that die before their first birth day has slightly reduced with preliminary results showing an infant mortality rate of 54 deaths for every 1,000 in 2011 from 76 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2006.

The results from the survey done by Uganda Bureau of Statistics every five years also show that the use of contraceptive by married women has slightly moved up to 30 percent from 24 percent in 2006 while the use of modern contraceptive has also increased from 18 percent in 2006 to 26 percent in 2011.

Preliminary results which KC has seen show that the percentage of women giving in health facilities has increased to 57 percent compared to 42 percent in 2006. Also, 59 percent of women in Uganda are now giving birth with the assistance of skilled birth attendant.

However, there is still a large disparity between the rural and urban women with 54 percent of rural women seeking skilled attendants compared to 90 percent of women in the urban areas.

The survey also revealed that the fertility rates in Uganda have slightly declined to 6.2 children per woman from 6.7 in 2006. In the urban areas the rate stand at 3.8 children per woman declining from 4.4 in 2006, while in the rural areas it stands at 6.8 down from 7.1 in 2006.
The survey is one of the key studies that gives an overview of the health situation in Uganda and provides information to guide the health sector’s future interventions and reforms activities.
“The issues to do with behavioral change take some time,” Dr Jennifer Wanyana, the assistant commissioner in the ministry of health, said commenting on the results.

She says it was now easy to accelerate progress from the small change. “Reduction in fertility is not drastic. It will decline, if a woman had an average of six children five years ago, that average would still remain in the next five years. But we have seen fertility rates fall from 6.7 to 6.2 which is a positive leap. These indicators take time to register a difference,” she stressed.

Dr Wanyana said the health sector was facing the problem of the availability of service providers and shortage of human resource although funding was increasing.

A member of parliament on social service committee, Dr Medrad Bitekyerezo said there was a big population increase in Uganda coupled with ignorance of reproductive health matters.

“ The attitude of Ugandans towards contraceptive use is negative. It is worsened by poor education of girls and some men. If girls were educated, they could use contraceptives as well as the men,” Dr Bitekyerezo said.
“ We shall not meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) if there is low funding in the health sector. We cannot depend on donors to fund health,” he observed.

He said that many children were malnourished as a result of poverty . “How many families in the north and eastern Uganda can afford milk every day? If the mothers are hungry, the children will be malnourished,” he said.

Emily Katarikawe , the managing director of Uganda Health Marketing Group said that many women either do not know about contraceptives or have no access to them.

“About 74 percent of the population is below 24 years of age and should be using modern contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies. We are not reaching the people we should be reaching,” Ktarikawe said.

She added that mothers were not following child spacing of two years between each birth as recommended by World Health Organization.

“Families are churning out many children. The attitude of individuals not using family planning methods and that of health workers must be studied,” she says.

Maternal and child health mortality have been recognized by the UN as key indicators for development. The MDG 4 and goal 5 target set out to reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under –five mortality rate and maternal mortality rate consecutively.
Uganda, like other sub-Sahara countries in, is not progressing well on these two targets. UN is concerned that child death are falling in many countries, but not quickly enough to reach the target.

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