PAKWACH. Pakwach district health department has pledged to reduce maternal deaths and improve the referral system after receiving the first district ambulance from UNICEF.

The officials said the majority of deaths have been attributed to a poor referral system occasioned by the lack of an ambulance and late reporting by mothers.

According to Ms Jessica Draru, the assistant district health officer in charge of maternal health, the donation has come at a time the district is overwhelmed by an estimated 1500 cases of teenage pregnancies in a space of nine months during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.

She said they are predicting high cases of referrals resulting from early pregnancy complications.

"We have for long struggled with timely handling of maternal referrals as we had limited authority over foundation ambulances from the politicians, the arrival of the first ever Pakwach district ambulance is a great relief in improving our referral system", she said.

She noted that for effective handling, all complications must be identified early enough during antenatal from the lower health units where the cases are rampant.

She however noted that continuous delivery of some pregnant mothers from homes with the assistance of traditional birth attendants undermines national efforts to reduce maternal deaths.

Draru said with a well-equipped ambulance and capacity of village health teams enhanced by AVSI, an international Non-governmental organization, maternal deaths will be reduced.

Ms Stella Abyeto, the Pakwach district chief administrative officer (CAO) called for concerted efforts in fuelling the ambulance in case the department is financially challenged.

Ambulance Pak

She also appealed to the drivers of the ambulance to be on standby in order to minimize delay and complacency for the realization of the district health targets that has repeatedly depended on neighboring hospitals of Lacor and Angal for handling emergencies.

There’re instances where our budget for fuel is down and we call upon the users to cooperate, let’s be steadfast in saving our mothers while giving birth and saving children as per the mission of the donors of the ambulance", she said.

As part of decentralizing its services, the district has earmarked Dei at the border with Democratic Republic of Congo in Panyimur Sub County and Ragem as rural delivery points for expectant mothers due the long distance to the main health centre.