Amudat mothers trek to Kenya to access treatment
Amudat– Ms Patricia Namohe 38, from Karita sub-county in Amudat is heavily pregnant and is expected to anytime from now.
But unlike other expectant mothers in the country who are close to the health services, Amudat is characterized by a set of unfortunate circumstances that have forced expectant mothers to deliver in the hands of traditional birth attendants.
Ms Namohe in order to deliver in the hands of qualified health personnel had to travel about 96 Km to Matany missionary hospital or cross to Kenya at Kacheliba hospital about 21 km away from Amudat.
In Amudat most expectant mothers, the majority of who are young girls under 30 years still do not have access to antenatal care services; walk long distances when going to deliver while others end up dying due to lack of qualified personnel.
The District Health Officer Dr Patrick Sati says only about 24% of women who give birth in Amudat receive care from trained personnel while the majorities give birth at home or under the supervision of traditional birth attendants.
Dr Sati the only doctor in Amudat who doubles as the DHO says health facilities especially in rural areas are not easily accessible due to the poor state of the roads, remoteness of the district, under-skilled workers who are overworked, under-paid and that the situation is worsened by corruption.
“It is not surprising that the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in Amudat include severe bleeding, high blood pressure and obstructed labor because of long distances covered by expectant mothers in search of better health facilities,” said Dr Sati.
He revealed that lack of a referral hospital in Amudat district is forcing coupled with the persistent rains that have washed away bridges and cut off parts of Karita is forcing expectant mothers in Amudat, sick children and adults trek to Kacheliba in Kenya to get referral treatment for all diseases and deliveries.
The LCV chairman for Amudat Mr William Bwatum says Amudat district has only two health centre IIIs and two health Centre IIs that are ill equipped to provide referral treatment to complicated pregnancy cases, diseases and that given the fact that Karita Heath centre III is about 66 Km away from Amudat and about 21 Km to Kacheliba in Kenya, most patients prefer to get treatment in Kenya.
“It is about 21Km to Kacheliba which is a good hospital, properly equipped and given the nature of our roads that have been washed away by heavy rains patients cant afford to move on foot for a distance of 96Km to get no treatment since we have no ambulance, so most of the patients travel to Kenya to access treatment,” said Mr. Bwatum
While speaking to Daily Monitor 21 August Mr Bwatum revealed that although Amudat district has a population of about 143, 317 people, the health sector is ill equipped to the level that it lacks of adequate medicine, has inadequate medical staff and the roads are in a bad shape that hinder people from accessing good services in Uganda.
The District Health Inspector Mr Simon Elimu said although they have also two health centre IIs in Cheptaboyo and Alakas, a health sector report and local statistics at the two health Centre IIIs in Loro and Karita reveal that about 74% percent of the expectant mothers in Amudat deliver at home with the assistance of traditional birth attendants.
He said only 26% of the mothers deliver in the health centres with the help of the qualified medical staff and that most of the mothers deliver at home with Traditional Birth Attendants [TBA] while majority of them who can afford run to Kenya for treatment and delivery.
“Given the remoteness of Amudat district, the deliveries in the government health facilities are still low in the district, only 234 mothers expectant mothers delivered in health facilities under qualified medical staff this right from January 2012 to May 2013 just about 26%, this figure reflects that many expectant mothers about 74% are not utilizing the government health facilities due to distance, remoteness, lack of sensitization and bad roadnet work,” said Mr. Elimu.
Mr. Bwatum revealed that although with the construction of health IIs and IIIs and recent recruitment, the health department has about 39% of the established medical staff posts filled with only one Doctor who doubles as the District Health Officer, “Infact this puts doctor: population ratio is 1:143,317 far above the World Health Organisation standards that recommends the ratio of Doctor to patient ratio as 1:10,000 for Africa.
Mr Bwatum said because of strong traditional ties, most people despise the health education activities at community level and called upon the district leadership not to leave the work to the few health workers in the district alone but to join in the sensitisation of the communities about the importance of delivering in health facilities.
He said whereas there is lack of medical equipments and medicine in the newly constructed health centre IIIs and IIs, there is equally low utilisation of the reproductive health services and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/ Aids which explains the soaring death rates of pregnant mothers and prevalence rates of HIV/ Aids.
Dr Sati said anemia is a common disease in adults and children in the district due to lack of food that is rich in iron adding malaria, diarrhea, whopping cough and HIV/Aids.
He said because the district is arid the residents are unable to access green leafy vegetables that are rich in iron to help prevent the disease.
In Amudat one cannot think about Kenya’s ethnic tribes; the Pokot and the Kalenjin without thinking about the district of Amudat, the new district in Uganda. Why? Kenya’s influence on Amudat district is everywhere in the new district, the buildings that are designed and built, the lifestyle, currency used let alone the language spoken.
One clear indication of the connection between these ethnic tribes is the clear pattern of association in the cultures, customs and Language that whenever the sick cross to Kacheliba in Kenya, they are treated as local Pokot from Kenya and given treatment at any health facility within the sub-region.