Safe Motherhood;

the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions

By Mary Badawi

This is Mary As an intern with the Mukono district health office recently, I was invited to participate in providing health services for the celebration of Safe Motherhood day. The activities for the day included; opening a training school for nurses and mid-wives, free HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, nutritional assessment of children and mothers, family planning services and free cervical cancer screening. During the course of the day I reflected on what was happening to children, mothers and prospecting mothers in my part of the country the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile region. I asked myself, have any of these mothers had a chance of receiving any of the services I am providing freely to these communities?

Safe motherhood means that no woman, fetus or baby should die or be harmed by a pregnancy or its birth. It begins with the assurance of basic safe living as a girl and a woman in society. In Uganda where I’m studying and doing my internship, the women here and the children have the opportunity to enjoy these rights and freedoms unlike in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile state.

In Safe motherhood a mother should be able to decide when, how, why and how many children to have; focus on maternal and neonatal health and identifies the interventions and actions that must be scaled up to save lives. most maternal and new born deaths can be prevented through proven scientific interventions including adequate nutrition; improved hygienic practices; antenatal care; skilled health workers assisting a birth; emergency obstetric and new born care and post natal visits for both mothers and newborn delivered through a continuum of care linking households and communities to health systems.

Research indicates that internationally, 80% of maternal deaths can be prevented if women are given access to essential maternity and basic health care services. Premature pregnancy and motherhood in these regions is a major risk to the health of our girls. The younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risk for her and her baby hence contributing to increased child and maternal mortality.

As we approach the 2015 deadline for the millennium development goals, the challenge of improving maternal and new born health goes beyond meeting them; it lies in preventing needless human tragedy in our region.

The rights of large numbers of children and mothers in this region including the rights to survival; a healthy life; participation and protection; education of the girl child; food, shelter and clothing remain a challenge in these parts of the country. Child and maternal mortality rates remain high. Despite previous interventions by international NGOs and the SPLM/N/N government, many communities still lack access to clean water, good sanitation, food, health care services and education. Underlying the above issues is the fact that there is an unfavourable political atmosphere characterized by aerial bombardment orchestrated by the Bashir government and racial discrimination; this tantamount to genocide on our people.

It is in the above context that I write about this dire situation and invite everyone to join hands in the commitment and struggle to provide promote, protect and fulfill the rights of women and children in these regions. I recognise the challenges that exist in realizing these goals regionally, nationally and internationally for these unfortunate women and children but we also see the possibilities that lie ahead. We must therefore use every available opportunity to enable women and children in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains develop to their full potential.

Therefore, making motherhood safe for the women of Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile regions calls for concerted efforts of the SPLM/N government, multi-lateral and bi-lateral agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society to make maternal health a top priority

Together we can do it.