By Harriet Asingura
Uganda, through the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (Unicef), has received a cash boost of US$4.4m (about Shs16bn) from the Swedish government. The grant is aimed at supporting Uganda’s response to Covid19 plus efforts towards the continued delivery of essential health services for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, newborns, children and adolescents.
The country went into lock-down in March, following confirmation of Uganda’s first Covid19 case. Many children and women are reported to have missed out on much-needed health care including vaccination, HIV medication and nutrition services, hence exposing them to heightened danger.
The funding is to be channeled to districts of Iganga, Isingiro, Kampala, Kamuli, Kasese, Mbale, Wakiso, Pakwach, Nebbi and Zombo. Others include, Madi-Okollo, Arua, Maracha, Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo, Obongi and Adjumani.
Per Lindgarde the Swedish ambassador to Uganda emphasised the importance of people’s health-care during this Covid19 period. “It is extremely important that antenatal, delivery and postnatal services along with different levels of emergency care- especially for pregnant women and premature or sick newborns, are accessible to all who need them,” noted HE Lindgarde.
Lindgarde added that “Supporting essential health services also means providing health workers with protective gear and infection-prevention supplies and ensuring that they have the knowledge needed to safely provide services during the pandemic.”
Unicef representative in Uganda Dr. Doreen Mulenga said, the funding is very timely since the pandemic was threatening to undo some of the most significant gains for children and women in Uganda.
“Unicef will continue to support the Government of Uganda in addressing the most pressing needs of children and women, while targeting those who are most vulnerable and those in hard-to-reach areas,” she said.
Unicef has partnered with the Swedish Embassy since 2017, focusing primarily on improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services in West Nile.
The latest funding will help Unicef with its overall emergency response and support for essential health services across 18 districts. An estimated 900 health workers in 241 health facilities are set to benefit and will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in infection prevention and control of the Coronavirus.
The funding will also help ensure that an estimated 1,000 mothers receive care for maternal complications and newborn care services, and that 85,000 people will have access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.