Kampala, UGANDA: Baylor-Uganda in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ministry of Health handed over essential maternal and child health (MCH) equipment worth more than $200,000 (UGX800m) to 575 community-level health centers across the country. The equipment included 400 examination beds, 310 examination screens, 425 adult weighing scales, 350 infant weighing scales, 575 BP machines, 800 fetoscopes, and 400 stadiometers.
Baylor-Uganda procured the equipment with funds from the U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS (PEPFAR). The equipment aims to boost the capacity of the public health centers to improve healthcare outcomes for mothers and children in line with the goal to eliminate Mother-To-Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV in Uganda.
“We have procured the right quality of equipment that is needed by the HCIIs, and I believe it will go a long way in contributing to overall maternal and child health outcomes in the country,” said Dr. Leticia Namale, the Director of Health Systems Strengthening at Baylor-Uganda.
According to UNAIDS, Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV has significantly reduced from 9.46% to 5.85 in 2019. Uganda has not yet attained the 5% WHO MTCT threshold due to sub-populations that still struggle to access MTCT services, mothers who drop off ART, and those that sero-convert later in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Findings from a recent national PMTCT impact evaluation showed that the majority of pregnant women—nearly half—seek healthcare from lower-level facilities, mostly HCIIs. However, most HCIIs lack the necessary accreditation and equipment to provide HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART)/PMTCT. This means that many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers miss out on critical PMTCT interventions that can prevent HIV transmission to their babies.
Dr. Doreen Ondo, the Program Officer at the Ministry of Health AIDS Control Program stated that although they had accredited 600 HCIIs, ‘their actual capacity to provide HIV ART, PMTCT and Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) services to promptly identify and care for HIV infected infants was still limited. “We decided to procure some basic equipment to aid their work and provide ongoing on-the-job capacity training,” she said.
Dr. Phoebe Namukanja, CDC PMTCT Lead advised the PEPFAR implementing partners present, to collaborate with their local government regional, district and site health teams to ‘ensure that the equipment is well utilized, maintained and accounted for.’
“With this equipment support and our collective efforts, we will ensure that no mother or child is left behind in the journey towards improving healthcare access in Uganda and elimination of mother-to-child transmission—for better, healthier and productive lives,” Dr. Namukanja said.