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By Vicky Wandawa

The Population Secretariat (POPSEC) has started campaigning for maternal health as a human right. The project, launched on Thursday at Hotel Africana, Kampala, changes strategy from merely advocating for maternal health to creating massive awareness that it is a human right.

Dr. Betty Kyadondo, the Head of Family Health Department at POPSEC said they hope this will empower all women with knowledge regarding their rights to health. This will exert pressure on the government to respond accordingly.

According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2011, 438 mothers out of every 100,000 live births, die while giving birth. The figure has risen three points from 435 deaths in 2006.

Presenting a report by POPSEC, Kyadondo called it developing the capacity of duty bearers, the government, to meet their obligations and encourage rights’ holders, the community, to claim their rights.

“A woman in the village does not know that health is her right,” she said. “Once they do, and start demanding for them, then the government will shift priority. When the community gets empowered, then the voice will be even stronger.”

States are obliged, under international human rights law, to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights related to pregnancy and child birth, for example, ensuring women’s access to a wide range of sexual reproductive information and health services, including family planning, antenatal care, skilled delivery and post natal care.

Through the Partners in Population and Development Africa Region, POPSEC was commissioned by the World Bank to implement the project. Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development Africa Region, noted that mothers were dying from preventable and treatable diseases, and such approaches are needed to scale the numbers down.

The chief guest, Hon Gabriel Aridru Ajedra, the MP of Arua Municipality, also minister designate for investment, described the intervention as unique