Addressing regional disparities in access to child and maternal health services
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Ensuring healthy lives through access to essential, affordable, quality health care for ‘all’ is the cornerstone of sustainable development and is what proponents of Universal Health Care (UHC) advocate for. Although Uganda has made some progress towards UHC, challenges remain with persistent inequality in access to maternal and child care services. Using the recently concluded MDG framework as an example, Uganda’s achievement on the various MDGS was mixed. A number of health related goals- which are of interest to this brief remained unachieved by the close of the September 2015 deadline; Uganda failed to reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio and narrowly missed target 4A that aimed to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015.1 To date in Uganda, an estimated 16 women still die every day from preventable causes linked to pregnancy and child birth while approximately 90 per 1000 live births still die from preventable causes annually. Disaggregated analysis further reveals stark regional disparities in health outcomes; the PRDP region2 and in particular the Northern region continues to lag behind the rest of the country – hence pulling down national human development progress. As we embark on the journey towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 which call for ‘leaving no one behind”, there is a need to address binding constraints in such lagging areas. This brief unpacks the disparities in achievements in maternal and child related health outcomes for the PRDP region in comparison to the rest of the country and proposes reforms aimed at accelerating the movement towards universal health coverage.