Street Protests Demanding Maternal Health in Uganda

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By: Tim Thomas, Senior Advisor, MHTF

Our Young Champions of Maternal Health program helped the MHTF expand its network of likeminded initiatives around the world, most notably through the community of Ashoka Fellows with whom each Young Champion was paired.

One of those pairings has yielded news from Joyce Fertility Support Centre in Uganda, run by Ashoka Fellow Rita Sembuya, an initiative in Uganda that shares the MHTF mandate to eradicate preventive maternal mortality in our lifetimes. Faatimaa Amhadi traveled from Iran to work with Rita during her Young Championship.

The Young Champions program has ended, but we continue to hear from Rita and her colleagues, most recently regarding a coaltion they are leading in a campaign to “End Maternal Mortality Now in Uganda.” Following is an excerpt from an email received today from Joyce Fertility and an article from the Ugandan Daily Monitor:

This year, Uganda’s Constitutional Court heard a historic petition that could finally help address this crisis. It is Petition Number 16 of 2011—a case that draws on the tragic deaths of two pregnant women in Arua in 2010 and Mityana in 2009. Petition Number 16 of 2011 argues that the Government’s non-provision of essential services for pregnant women and their newborns violates the fundamental obligation of the country to uphold the Constitution to defend, protect and promote the right to health and the right to life.

This activity took place on Friday May 27 in Kampala where the petition was heard in the constitutional court. Also in the districts of Arua and Mityana (these are up-country districts) where recent cases of maternal death had just happened. People stormed the streets, marching to show interest in the petition.

We are fighting for what we deserve as Ugandans, a decision by Constitutional Court that may force the Government to immediately address the crisis of maternal mortality. In supporting this campaign, we are honoring the lives of those mothers we have lost at the time of giving births and saying, no more maternal deaths.