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Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. We are a partnership of leading research institutes from across the globe working in a variety of contexts: in low-income countries (Bangladesh, Uganda), middle-income countries (China, India) and fragile states (Afghanistan) to build resilient health systems for the future. After a successful first five-year phase from 2006-2011 (see our success stories), we are entering a new six-year phase of research, funded mainly by UK aid.

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Letter to Inter-Parliamentary Union delegates on maternal and child health

Future Health Systems

On 4 April 2012 in an OpEd in the nationally circulated Daily Monitor in Uganda, Kakaire Ayub Kirunda, FHS Uganda Communications Officer, publishes an open letter to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, who were meeting in Kampala earlier that week. In the article, he argues:

"In this part of the world, only a handful of countries are likely to meet the MDGs 4 (reducing child mortality) and 5 (improving maternal mortality). Unfortunately, my country Uganda is one of those in this category when it comes to these two MDGs.

"MDGs 4 and 5 are closely interlinked because what affects the health of a mother will ultimately have ripple effects on the child. For instance, if a pregnant woman delays at home because she cannot access transport to the hospital and develops complications, chances of losing her or her child or both are high. Equally, when she eventually gets to a health facility, if there are no health workers or requisite supplies, there could be dire consequences for either or both. While your Governments promise better roads to ease movement -including transporting women in need of emergency care and health facilities equipped with requisite supplies and personnel, this is not happening.

"In Uganda, we have many impassable roads that even wheeling a pregnant mother on a bicycle to the hospital to deliver is next to impossible. We also have health facilities (some level 2 ones) manned by nursing assistants and where we have qualified ones, they are few, and overworked, leading to burn-outs and subsequently poor attitude and absenteeism. And worse still, many health facilities experience frequent stock-outs of supplies and drugs, leaving health workers with no alternative but to ask the patients to buy the missing items. Evidence shows that all these combined, force many women to deliver without skilled attendants, putting their lives at risk. Their newborns are equally at risk because they can’t be assessed by qualified personnel for any apparent danger signs.

"Therefore, if you are to help your constituents and governments, especially in countries struggling to meet MDG targets 4 and 5, ensure that your governments prioritise the use of their limited resources on increasing the number of trained health workers, improving their pay and availing the supplies required to deliver quality services."

See the OpEd in full in the original on the Daily Monitor website.