Advocacy for RH supplies and services in Uganda
13th May 2009
Health experts have urged the Government to make long-term family planning methods more accessible and increase funding to reproductive health.
This is in a bid to reduce the number of unsafe abortions and maternal mortality. Maternal mortality is the death of mothers due to pregnancy related complications.
The executive director of Reproductive Health Uganda, Elly Mugumya, says the community has turned away from short-term to long-term family planning methods, but making these long-term methods accessible to the community is still a problem.
Speaking during the launch of Reproductive Health Advocacy Supplies Network at Hotel Africana Kampala, Mugumya said increasing funding would address the problem of drug shortages, enable continued training for health staff and increase the availability of the services, especially the long-term methods.
"We need to promote commodity security for reproductive health supplies like family planning and increase uptake of long-term methods like Intrauterine Devices, implants and permanent methods which have been long ignored," Mugumya says.
The Network brings together civil society organisations that advocate improved reproductive health financing. Its members include parliamentarians, health consumer protection activists, officials from the Population Secretariat, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the health ministry and the media.
He stressed the need for everybody to be able to choose, obtain and use quality and affordable contraception and other essential reproductive health products whenever they need them.
Mugumya said a report on family planning commodity security indicates that the percentage of women who need to space or limit their births, but cannot access the family planning methods, stands at 41% while the modern contraceptive prevalence rate is at 33%.
Consequently, many women end up carrying out unsafe abortions, with over 300,000 induced abortions recorded annually.
Uganda's maternal death ratio stands at 435 deaths per every 100,000 live births, which health experts argue would significantly reduce if the Government increased financial support for reproductive health.
However, Dr. Moses Muwonge, the reproductive health commodity security coordinator at the Ministry of Health, regrets that less than 10% of the national budget is allocated to health, way below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 15% by 2015.
Muwonge says reproductive health is largely financed by donors whose priorities do not match the local needs.
"We need sh24b to ensure sufficient stocks for reproductive health supplies, but this year, the Government allocated only sh1.4b down from last year's sh1.6b," he says.
He says considering the country's unmet need for family planning, the decline in funding worsens shortages in procurement and drug stocks.
By standard definition, women who have ummet need for family planning are those women who express the desire to space or limit births but are not using contraception.
Uganda still faces challenges in ensuring a guaranteed availability of reproductive health commodities for those who need them both in the short and long-run."
He says; "Poor coordination of activities and interventions by stakeholders at all levels of reproductive health service, for example procurement cycle, storage facilities and bureaucracy delay supplies, resulting in the expiry of the commodities and a delay in ordering and deliveries."
It is hoped that a well-developed reproductive health strategy will cause a shift from the practice emergency of responding to stock-outs, towards more predictable, planned and sustainable country-driven approaches for ensuring essential supplies and ensuring their use.
Mugumya says the UNFPA estimates that each $1m shortfall in support for reproductive health supplies means 360,000 unplanned pregnancies, 150,000 additional induced abortions, 11,000 infant deaths and 14,000 deaths of children under five years.
41% of women have no access to family planning methods.
Modern contraceptive prevalence rate is at 33%.
Over 300,000 induced abortions are recorded annually.
Uganda's maternal death ratio stands at 435 deaths per every 100,000 live births.
Less than 10% of the national budget is allocated to health, way below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 15% by 2015.
The original AllAfrica news article by Halima Shaban and Irene Nabusoba can be accessed here