TBAs Return to Save Expectant Mother in Butyaba after Closure of Health Center III


The submerged Butiaba Health Center III in Buliisa district.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

They were vilified and described as dangerous to the lives of expectant mothers. But now the Traditional Birth Attendants -TBAs are the only hope for the girls and women of Butyaba Town Council who get pregnant and their babies because delivery cannot be postponed once it due.

Following the closure of Butiaba Health Center III last month over lack of space to operate from after submergence by floods, he expectant mothers in the town council and Butiaba sub county of Buliisa district have been left with no option but to revert to the long abandoned services of TBAs.

The mothers who spoke to Uganda Radio Network explained that after the closure of the only health center that was situated within their sub county and town coiuncil, they were left with no option but to seek services of the TBAs.

They explained that in their state, they cannot manage to foot to Buliisa Health Center IV and Biiso Health III that are situated 50 and 20km away respectively.

Health officials in the district closed Butiaba Health Center III in April after failing to secure a better place where patients can be treated.

The Health facility was in October last year submerged by floods rising from Lake Albert. As a result, health services at the health facility were then temporarily relocated to Butiaba Primary school as pupils were still home due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The floods submerged staff quarters, maternity, male and female wards, store and the Outpatient Department – OPD among other facilities at the health center. Also submerged were roads leading to the health facility making it difficult for patients to access.

The health centre before its closure would receive more than 200 patients a day on average including some who come from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, following the resumption of classes by semi candidates, medical workers at the health centre found it hard to continue operating at the school yet its former premises are still submerged.

They were compelled to close the facility because they lacked space to accommodate staff and patients.

The situation is driving many expectant mothersback in the embrace of TBAs which is risky to their lives.

Jane Akumu, an expectant mother in Butiaba town Council admits going to seek services of the TBAs after she failed to raise transport to take her to Biiso Health Center III that is situated about 20km away from their area.

Rose Kyalisiima also an expectant mother says they are going through untold suffering fearing that many could get complications during giving birth since they do not have health experts to attend to their complex conditions.

Immaculate Ayeronga a resident of Piida in Butiaba sub county wonders why government is apparently not bothered by the closure of the health facility yet it is key especially to the expectant mothers.

The government banned Traditional Birth Attendants close to ten years ago, with the hope of reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.

Mugenyi Malitabu, the Butiaba sub county LCIII Chairperson says currently the situation is out of hand adding that many expectant mothers could get exposed to complications due to the absence of health experts to attend to them.

Nelson Naisye, the Buliisa District Health officer-DHO says they have no alternative unless government secures for them a place to accommodate the health workers and patients.

Longino Bahebwa, the Buliisa Resident District Commissioner-RDC says government is looking for all possible means to ensure that the health facility is reopened as soon as possible.

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