National Safe Motherhood Conference: Why you should attend such conferences!

“I sincerely congratulate NASMEC on the success of the 03rd National Safe Motherhood Conference, which was well-organized, well-balanced, and had a very topical agenda”. “The speakers were all highly respected professionals, and the debate was dynamic”, I spoke.

I believe that attending conferences gives one a chance to see what others in his/her field are doing. Secondly, it allows one to meet with their peers and exchange views on current problems of interest and get to know each other and possibly collaborate on problems which with combined expertise may result in solvable outcomes. Thirdly, I believe that attending conferences allows one to present their work to a larger audience and hopefully get useful feedback. Lastly, I believe that it also helps to grow one’s reputation in their field and possibly get good recommendations for future opportunities as this is a networking platform.

Around June 2023, I came across a communication from The National Safe Motherhood Experts Committee (NASMEC) about the upcoming National Safe Motherhood Conference scheduled from 23rd to 25th Oct 2023 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala Uganda. The theme for the year 2023 stated, “Reach every mother, Reach every newborn”. I got excited but at the same time, the theme increased my curiosity and vowed to attend this years’ conference. I also went ahead and read about the thematic areas for abstracts to be presented during the conference, which included; maternal health, newborn, infant, child and adolescent health, family planning, MPDSR & Quality Improvement. I said to myself, as a Midwife and Women’s’ Health Specialist, this is the exact place I needed to be at the right time and with the right people.

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Worldwide, maternal survival and well-being is challenged by complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The major causes of maternal death include excessive bleeding during pregnancy or after childbirth, sepsis, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, obstructed labour and abortion complications. On the other hand, infections, asphyxia and pre-maturity are the leading causes of death in the newborn. The recent results from the 2022 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey portrayed an improvement in the maternal and newborn indicators, with the maternal mortality ratio reducing to 189/100,000 live births and newborn mortality ratio to 34/1,000. In order for us to further avert maternal and neonatal mortality, the aspect of Safe Motherhood needs to be strengthened.  

The National Safe Motherhood Conference started off with pre-conference activities like the Adolescent Health Conference and other media engagements. The main conference begun on 23rd 0ct 2023 and ended on 25th Oct 2023. Over 600 delegates were in attendance including the Hon Minister of Health, Permanent Secretary-Ministry of Health, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Members of Parliament, religious leaders, representatives from both government and non-government entities, frontline health workers and leaders, and academicians among others. Over 300 abstracts were presented.

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The conference concluded with some resolutions which included;

  • Improving maternal service delivery such as identifying and managing risk pregnancies, accelerating establishment and tracking functionality of ANC risk clinics in each region.
  • Working through MoH structures to include calibrated drapes onto the essential supplies list (replace the ‘kaveera’ in the mama kit) for management of postpartum haemorrhage.
  • Developing an action framework targeting RMNCAH issues in this population category.
  • Re-shaping messaging on teen pregnancy and establishing toll-free hotline/call centre for Adolescent Girls and Young Women consultation and counselling.
  • Embracing self-care for health, as the MoH will fast-track adoption of the national self-care guideline and finalization of all policy frameworks in which self-care has been integrated.
  • Strengthening community engagement and sensitisation on RMNCAH- ANC attendance, risk pregnancy, FP, AGYWs, new-born care, TBAs.
  • Health financing by strengthening working relations with GoU structures at national and regional level.
  • Fast-tracking the adoption and implementation of innovative approaches such the National Health Insurance Scheme and the Total Market Approach for increasing domestic health financing, advocating for increased allocation of public resources towards health, and bilateral and multi-lateral funding that contribute to SDG.
  • Improving partner coordination for resource optimization at national and subnational levels.

The author; Lilian Nuwabaine; is a BSc Nurse, MSN-Midwife and Women’s’ Health Specialist

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