Kawempe Registers a Spike in Maternal Deaths

Less than a month since President Museveni announced restrictions on movement private vehicles as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus disease, there is a reported increase in the number of perinatal and maternal mortalities.

Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Uganda’s specialized hospital for obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics, registered 23 perinatal mortalities and four maternal deaths in the first week of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, according to the hospital records.

This is the highest number of deaths to be recorded in the non-boom months considering that births had reduced immensely from the highs of 80 to 56 per day.

“The first day they announced the lockdown… remember it was abrupt, [the president banned the movement] of vehicles at night, that impeded expectant mothers to come to the hospital in time, it also affected some of our staff; not only here but even our peripheral facilities in Kampala and the neighbouring districts,” said Dr. Lawrence Kazibwe, the hospital’s acting deputy executive director.

He, however, said that the situation has now normalized. He said the hospital recorded fatalities because the president’s directive caught most expectant mothers and service providers unawares.

“The deliveries went down, we recorded about 20 caesarian sections and about 56 normal deliveries. Trouble arose when we started bringing in [expectant] mothers in a very poor shape,” he said.

He said mothers were being brought in very poor shape, with ruptured uteruses due to prolonged labor and stillbirths.

“We had very few staff coming; the workload was so much. On the first day, we had 35 mothers for the caesarian section and out of those; the first eight had ruptured uteri. It was that bad,” Dr. Kazibwe said.

The hospital has now had to suspend other services, which don’t relate to childbirth that the hospital handles including people with fertility challenges and those that have prolonged menstruation periods among others whose clinics are normally held on Mondays and Fridays.

Even for the expectant mothers seeking antenatal care, each is given a specific day of the three days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to attend and that once one comes in outside that schedule they are forced to turn them back unless it’s an emergency.


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