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UNFPA supports Yumbe district with new ambulance to strengthen referral systems and improve maternal health

In many rural communities, pregnant women in need of timely medical attention are hindered by many factors, among them, lack of transport to a health centre to seek skilled care at birth.

It is in this regard that the UN Population Fund in Uganda handed over an ambulance to strengthen the referral system and improve maternal health in the refugee-hosting district of Yumbe.

The ambulance was officially handed over to the Minister of Health Dr. Joyce Kaducu-Moriku by the UNFPA Assistant Representative, Dr. Edson Muhwezi at a brief ceremony held at the Ministry headquarters in Kampala, on September 23.

While handing over the ambulance to the Yumbe District Health Officer  Dr. Alfred Yayi, Hon. Kaducu thanked the team at the Ministry of Health for prioritizing maternal health amidst COVID-19 pandemic. She said that the ambulance is an important tool to facilitate referrals and access to emergency services, specifically maternal and perinatal health. 

“This ambulance is timely support towards interventions to save the mother and the newborn child,” Dr. Kaducu said.

She also acknowledged UNFPA for all the support given towards the Government of Uganda programmes especially sexual and reproductive health, including maternal and neonatal health.

“You are more than a partner. You mean a lot to us. We are friends in healthcare service delivery,” Dr. Kaducu said.

Yumbe District Health Officer Dr. Alfred Yayi (Left) and Yumbe Chief Administrative
Officer waiting to receive the ambulance before the handover.
PHOTO: UNFPA/Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi

While receiving the ambulance, Dr. Yayi said that the ambulance will be placed at Midigo Health Centre IV to ensure that all mothers who need emergency care access the service.

He added that the ambulance will not only strengthen the referral system but also will prevent the loss of mothers due to delays caused by lack of transport to health facilities.

Dr. Muhwezi said that the ambulance represents part of UNFPA’s commitment to support Government of Uganda’s efforts to improve access to, and coordination of sexual and reproductive health and rights at all levels.

“UNFPA’s strategic direction is to support the Government of Uganda to strengthen health systems and ensure; zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero tolerance to gender-based violence and other harmful practices,” he said.

“No woman should die giving life just because she could not access a health facility in time to deliver under skilled care,” he added.

Earlier in September, with funding from the Embassy of Denmark in Uganda, UNFPA through the Women, Adolescents, Youth Rights and Empowerment Programme supported Amuru district with an ambulance services to ensure timely response to medical emergencies.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, UNFPA continues to sustain the focus on access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, ensuring that maternal health services are not interrupted.  In the past few months, all districts in the West Nile region were supported with fuel for ambulance referral services. Since March this year,  3,643 pregnant women have been referred for emergency obstetric care using this strengthened ambulance system.

-Written by Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi in Kampala and Cinderella Anena in Amuru