Parliament of Uganda and the Inter-Parlimentary Union meet to address women's and children's health

9-10 DECEMBER 2011 | KAMPALA

Opening ceremony
Opening ceremony

Approximately 80 parliamentarians gathered in a two day meeting organized by the Parliament of Uganda and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to discuss the role of parliaments in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health in Uganda.

While Uganda has made some progress in improving maternal health, the rate of maternal mortality remains high at 440 deaths per 100 000 thousand live births. This means that today in Uganda 16 women die every day in an attempt to give life. Child mortality also remains high. Despite a drop in child deaths from 186 per 1000 in 1990 to 135 per 1000 in 2008, Uganda is ranked 19th country globally with the most child deaths.

Parliamentarians attribute the poor health status of women and children to weak health systems which result in poor quality of services and inaccessibility of services. Some main issues include the high costs of accessing care, shortages of quality staff and drugs in the right places and at the right time and ineffective referral systems. Parliamentarians also acknowledge the negative impact of poor social determinants such as education, water and sanitation on the health of women and children.

Parliamentarians committed to improving health outcomes in Uganda through the development of a parliamentary advocacy strategy that looks at improving service delivery, the health workforce, health information and health financing. Parliamentarians mandated a coordinating committee consisting of the NAWMP, the Children’s Forum, the MDG Forum and the Social Services Committee to develop and coordinate the implementation of a parliamentary advocacy strategy in support of the National Roadmap for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality and Morbidity in Uganda.

The advocacy strategy will focus specifically on holding local leaders accountable for health outcomes; reviewing legislation to ensure a conducive environment for the improved health of women and children; promoting the recruitment, training, motivation and retention of health workers; and improving access to and quality of health services.

This parliamentary retreat follows one organized in Kenya on 5-6 December by the Kenyan Parliamentarian and the InterParliamentary Union. It is part of an effort led by the InterParliamentary Union and supported by the Partnership and other stakeholders to improve parliamentary action for women’s and children’s health globally.