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Clinical researchers from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and Uganda’s Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) have met with an Mbarara District MP and other local representatives to discuss the findings of their latest research into child and maternal mortality in the region.

Vaccination day
Vaccination day

The ‘Human Resources for Primary Care in Africa’ (HURAPRIM) project aimed to identify the main causes of death in children and mothers, avoidable factors, and measures to implement in the region to prevent deaths.

According to the collaboration of 13 healthcare professionals from the two universities, the number of children dying before they reach the age of five years old was higher than expected, yet the number of maternal deaths was lower than expected.

Causes of death have been attributed to a range of diseases such as neonatal infections, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition.

Key contributing factors were discussed, including insufficient uptake of preventive measures such as family planning, inadequate staffing at health centres, poor quality of care, unregulated pharmacies and private clinics and parents’ low awareness of health issues. The research findings have enabled the district health team to re-distribute health workers to areas of greatest need, and quality of care has improved in several health centres. In the study areas, child deaths have reduced by about 40% between the first and second years of the confidential enquiry.

Dr Merlin Willcox, Clinical Researcher, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, was asked how much nurses are paid in the UK compared to nurses in Uganda, where the salary of a nurse is less than £60 per month:

“Nurses in the UK are paid much more, although living costs are also greater. This is partly because the UK is a higher-income country, but also because health receives a higher political priority than in Uganda. At election time, voters ask potential MPs about improvements to the National Health Service, whereas this rarely happens in Uganda.”

Dr Vincent Mubangizi, lecturer in family medicine at MUST, said:

“Almost all deaths can be avoided. Better use of preventative measure would help to prevent most illnesses.”

At the meeting, Mbarara District MP Emma Boona acknowledged that there is a shortage of health workers, adding that the available ones sometimes abscond from duty.

The research is funded by the European Union through the HURAPRIM project.

An article covering the meeting can be found in the National Ugandan newspaper, Daily Monitor


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