SGBV Project: Women Struggle to Access Maternal Care

Women Struggle to Access Maternal Care

By Wade Snowdon

November 3rd, 2009

AMURU, UGANDA- While some women are still able to receive maternal care without the participation of the father of the child, many women have reported cases of being denied treatment when they try to access it alone.

During a training conducted by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) of the Sub-county courts, Secretary of Women’s Affairs, and Local Council I’s on Sexual and Gender Based Violence Prevention and Response, many participants narrated stories of how single women have been denied maternal care when they visit the Health Centres.

When my husband and I separated, he began to refuse to go with me,” said Stella Aber[1] during the training. “Since he would not come with me any longer, I stopped going knowing they would only chase me away if he didn’t accompany me.”

 In response to such events, George Ochan, ARLPI’s Project Officer who is overseeing the project stated, “Women are suffering twice. Women who are abandoned by their husbands are then denied the services they need thereby decreasing their chances of having a healthy pregnancy.”

 According to Dr. Sylvia Awor of Gulu Regional Hospital, the importance of such a visit is to ensure that both the husband and the wife register in order to receive their Maternal Care Card which entitles them to the service. During the visit, both the man and women are tested for HIV so that doctors can ensure that all is done to help prevent the baby from being born with the disease. Basic counsel is also given so that both parents know what to do during pregnancy.

 While the provision of free maternal care can be attributed to the decline in the neonatal mortality rate in Uganda over the last number of decades, experiences such as that of Stella Aber suggests more work needs to be done to ensure women are able to access the care they need to ensure healthy pregnancies and delivery.

In an October 31st, 2009 speech given by the Health Minister, Dr Stephen Mallinga on behalf of the Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in Mayuge District, it was stated that, “Statistics indicate that although maternal mortality is reducing, it still remains high at 435 deaths per 100,000 live births,” reported the Daily Monitor. These statistics indicate that Uganda is unlikely to meet its goal of cutting by 75 per cent by 2015 the number of women who die during child birth.

 ARLPI is currently undertaking a 2 year CARE International project entitled ‘Multisectorial Approach to Ending Sexual & Gender Based Violence in Northern Uganda.’ The project seeks to holistically mitigate SGBV and to provide better access to services for survivors of such violence.

 The project is currently being implemented throughout the sub-Acholi region, ARLPI is currently carrying out the project in the sub-counties of Koch Goma, Lamogi and Alero.


1] Name changed for confidentiality purposes.