Increment in health budget is key for combating Maternal Mortality
Pregnant women attend a health seminar at a UNFPA-run health centre in Juba, South Sudan. Photo credit: UNFPA/Tim McKulka
By Staff Reporter
South Sudan Coalition against Maternal Deaths, National Civil Society Organization’s led by Impact Health Organization (IHO), the National Legislative Committee for Health and HIV/AIDS have called for increment in the health budget to combat the high rate of maternal mortality in South Sudan.
The health sector currently receives just 2 per cent of the National Budget. The health activists called for an increase of the health budget to at least 6 per cent.
The call came after conducting a study tour of maternal health facilities in Juba on Friday, last week to learn about the situation of health facilities and to make improvements of maternal health care services.
The group also held a round-table meeting between civil society organizations, representatives from the National Legislative Committee for Health and HIV/AIDS, National Ministries of Health and Finance in mid-May.
South Sudan Coalition against Maternal Deaths (SSCAMD) was formed in March 2018.
The Chairperson of the National Legislative Committee for Health and HIV/AIDS, Catherine Peter said that the high rate of maternal mortality in the country was alarming and it was the collective responsibility of every sector to address it.
The meeting was organized to review the National Ministry of Health budget with the aim of making recommendations for the increment based on the Ministry’s targets, the Abuja Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Rate to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
The current Maternal Mortality Rate in South Sudan is 2,054 deaths per 100,000 live births according to the Ministry of Health.
Catherine Peter said that her Committee has adapted the agenda the civil society organizations were proposing for the health budget to be increased from the current 2 per cent to 6 per cent.
“Our challenge is the delivery of quality of services; for we lack equipment’s, poor infrastructure and data reporting is not properly structured,” she said.
Ms. Catherine further recommended the members present at the meeting to sensitize the public on maternal health and to promote the Boma Health Initiative that was recently launched by the National Ministry of Health.
In Munuki Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC), one midwife complained that the number of staff is inadequate; three midwifes and one doctor, to attend to the huge number of patients who seek for maternal health care.
The centre has one generator that is unable to be run the whole day, the scissors and clippers that the midwifes use are less and the maternity ward has eleven beds for women in labour and only two beds for delivery according to the midwife.
Another midwife at the clinic said that they have one ambulance and one driver. In times of emergencies at night, she said, they are forced to refer the patient to Juba Teaching Hospital.
She added that when they stop working in the evening, patients are forced to hire a vehicle that will transport them to Juba Teaching Hospital and for those unable, they have to wait until early morning to be transferred.
In Kator PHCC, Dr. Afrah Akasha said that the centre does not operate the entire day. “We work less than twenty four hours. There is no night duty due to insecurity,” she said.
She added that if patients suffering from high blood pressure visit the clinic, they stabilize the patient’s condition and then refer them to Juba Teaching Hospital.
Dr. Akasha further said that the centre needed a bigger theatre for dressing of wounds.
At Juba Teaching Hospital, Dr. Haram Mustafa a volunteer at the Hospital said they did not have enough working space. She added that the theatre supplies such as gloves were also inadequate.
Dr. Alexander Dimiti, the Director General for Reproductive Health in the National Ministry of Health said that every patient has a right to access quality health care.
He recommended that security should be provided to all the maternal health facilities for the patients to access quality health care and called for improvement of the health facilities and medical supplies.
Dr. Dimiti further pledged to work with other health partners to deploy more health workers to the maternal health facilities that needed specialists.
Ali Sem, the Program Officer of Impact Health Organization said that lack of adequate national budget towards the health sector was the root cause of poor maternal health in the country.
“The National Budget has stagnated since 2016, 2017 to date. The 2014/2015 budget allocation for health was 3%, 2015/2016 was still 3% and the 2017/2018 was 2 % which is inadequate for proper maternal health care service delivery,” Ali emphasized.
He said that women were at a great health risk due to inadequate funds allocated to the health sector and added that globally, South Sudan is ranked fifth with the highest mortality rate of 254,000 per 100,000 live births.
He added that due to low quality health services in the country, many pregnant women die while giving birth and only 30% of pregnant women, at least one attend ante-natal care in health clinics in the country.
Ali said that the budget allocation for the health sector was insufficient to train health workers, improve health infrastructure and to equip health centers with drugs.
He added that in the next fiscal year, they will liaise with parliamentarians on increasing the budget allocation.