We Need ‘Respectful’ Maternity Care Services- PWDs demand

William Mwambu

The Masindi District councilor representing people with disabilities, William Mwambu, has said there is a need to promote respectful maternity care (RMC) amongst differently disabled mothers. Mwambu said mothers with different disabilities are often stigmatized and also neglected by their spouses.

“Some of our expectant mothers when they conceive, husbands run away from them, they hardly accept that they are the wives and this has led to the acceptance of the status they are in. In so doing, they fail to open up and once this is done, they also end up having children with different disabilities”

Mwambu said that stigmatization is most driven by negativity and stereotypes amongst health workers and communities shun away differently disabled mothers from attaining the best quality of care from recommended facilities thus adopting Traditional Birth Attendants and home-based delivery. 

“When expecting mothers with disabilities approach health workers, some of them arrogantly ask them; if you can’t climb onto this bed then how did you conceive? This one stigmatizes them more, it even keeps them away from delivering from hospitals and this increases number of deaths of them and their children,” he said.

Dorcus Kyarisiima, the PWD representative at Masindi General Hospital Management Committee not differing from Mwambu, said that neglect and stigmatization of differently disabled mothers render them helpless.

“We’re underprivileged, we raise the pregnancies by ourselves and to the period of giving birth the midwives ask for this and the other yet we are helpless and have no money,” she said.

Mwambu however said long distances to health facilities coupled with a lack of mobility assistive devices is another hindrance to RMC amongst Differently Abled mothers.

“Commuting on a monthly basis for antenatal services becomes a challenge, at times some of the boda-bodas take advantage of these expectant mothers because they know you’re already with disabilities you may hardly have an option of bargaining for cheaper transportation,” he said.

A mother after giving birth at Masindi hospital

To Kyarisiima, RMC amongst Differently Abled Mothers is attainable if there is the prioritization of PWD needs inclusion in all facility construction plans.

“The challenge that cuts across all health facilities is that we have no beds for differently abled preferably the lame, even in theatres themselves no single bed is there for example even where mothers lie after giving birth is a challenge.”

“The favorable toilets also totally lack, for even when we go to the OPD to access medication there are no wheelchairs, at least as they look forward to constructing new facilities, they should follow those procedures,” she said.