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UNICEF Calls on Governments and Donors to Maintain Lifesaving Services for Pregnant Women and Newborns

KAMPALA, Uganda– The role of women in society is recognized worldwide as exceptional, and the crucial role of motherhood shouldn’t be underrated. From pregnancy, to giving birth, and to raising children, the journey can seem challenging most times, especially for mothers with disabilities or HIV/AIDS, in terms of accessing health services.

A mother is a woman who takes up the responsibility of childbearing and upbringing, participating in their education and wellbeing. Mothers will stop at nothing to protect their children and to make sure they receive the loving care they need to grow up safe and strong.

Mother’s Day is celebrated every second Sunday of the month of May, to honor mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers for their contribution to family and society.

However, ahead of Mother’s Day, with 116 million expected births in the approximately 9 months since the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized, UNICEF has called on governments and donors to maintain lifesaving services for pregnant women and newborns.

New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities including global containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews; health centres overwhelmed with response efforts; supply and equipment shortages; and a lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants as health workers, including midwives, are redeployed to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Millions of mothers all over the world embarked on a journey of parenthood in the world as it was. They now must prepare to bring a life into the world as it has become – a world where expecting mothers are afraid to go to health centres for fear of getting infected, or missing out on emergency care due to strained health services and lockdowns,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “It is hard to imagine how much the coronavirus pandemic has recast motherhood.”

It is evident that COVID-19 containment measures can disrupt life-saving health services such as childbirth care, putting millions of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk, and although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by COVID-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services. Likewise, sick newborns need emergency services as they are at high risk of death. New families require support to start breastfeeding, and to get medicines, vaccines and nutrition to keep their babies healthy.

UNICEF has called for immediate investment in health workers with the right training, who are equipped with the right medicines to ensure every mother and newborn is cared for by a safe pair of hands to prevent and treat complications during pregnancy, delivery and birth.

UGANET would love to wish all mothers a Happy Mothers’ Day and reiterate that we will continue in our efforts to ensure access to healthcare and justice, as well as the upholding of human rights to all women in Uganda.

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