Stillbirths in Uganda : counting down to 2030
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UNICEF defines stillbirth as a baby born with no signs of life at 28 weeks of completed gestation (UNICEF, 2020). World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths occurring each year and majority of these occurring in low and lower middle-income countries accounting for around 84% in the world. For stillbirth rate, latest data shows that globally in 2019, it stood at 13.9 per 1,000 total births (UNICEF, 2020). Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) which was endorsed in 2014 by World Health Assembly was established mainly to achieve a global target of 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1,000 total births in every country by 2030. However efforts to reduce stillbirths in comparison to under five mortality births seems slow, for example according to a report “A Neglected Tragedy: The Global Burden of Stillbirths, 2020”, from 2000 to 2019, the global rate of under-five mortality declined by 50% (from 75.8 deaths per 1,000 live births to 37.7 deaths) while the corresponding reduction in the rate of stillbirths (number per 1,000 total births) was just 36% (from 21.6 to 13.8). WHO warns that without urgent action, more than 19 million babies born in the next decade will be stillborn (WHO, 2020). With the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic ravaging the world, stillbirths are estimated to even increase more. In Uganda as of 2015, stillbirth rate was 21 per 1,000 total births (Lawn JE, et al., 2016). For those babies dying under 5 years, recent data from World Data Atlas, shows that in 2019 in Uganda, the rate was 45.8 deaths per 1,000 live births and for Neonatal rate (Which is the number of death of newborns before reaching 28 days of age) stands at 20 deaths per 1,000 live births. Causes of stillbirths include; pregnancy complications such as pregnancy with twins, Infections usually not taken seriously, High blood pressure drug abuse among others. Causes of stillbirths can be averted through improved quality health care, men involvement in maternal health issues of their pregnant wives by giving them financial support. With 2030 fast approaching and the eminent covid-19 pandemic effects on social, health and economic wellbeing of women, it’s high time government of Uganda triples the efforts to reduce this danger of stillbirth so that the target set by ENAP in 2014 of reducing stillbirths to 12 or below stillbirths per 1,000 total births is achieved.