The Makerere University International Students Scientific Conference on Maternal and Newborn Health (ISSCOM 2012) has opened today with a call on medical practitioners and students to work hard to ensure continuous improvement in the quality of the health of mothers.
The call was made by the Principal Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), Professor Nelson Sewankambo while opening the two-day conference at Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi near Kampala.
Professor Sewankambo noted that the students should have outcomes from the conference that clearly articulate their work so that they are not looked at as parasites waiting for government and other funding to spend. He therefore advised them to take advantage of existing funding, and other opportunities available to them at the College, to build and strengthen their profiles. He pledged that the College is always ready to assist any student looking for opportunities elsewhere.
The Patron ISSCOM, Dr. Imelda Namagembe, who is also a Consultant Gynaecologist at Mulago Hospital said that health workers cannot afford to remain in the corridors of hospitals and wards, but must get out and link up with other people and institutions involved in health care.
Delivering a key note address at the conference, Dr. Namagembe noted that the concern about maternal and newborn health mainly stems from the fact that a small number of women do attend the expected number of ANC visits, few are delivered by skilled birth attendants and the fertility rate is still high at 6.2 births per woman.
The ISSCOM 2012 Patron Dr. Imelda Namagembe delivering her key note address
She pointed out that family planning is the most important pillar of safe motherhood and should be promoted by all health workers and their allies. She called upon young professionals to ensure that they are always ready to work in any part of the country, and that they lobby for a good take home package.
The President Makerere University Medical Students Association (MUMSA), Mr. Peter James Kitonsa said the student body at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences is doing a lot of work, some of it outside the mainstream College mandate, like mobilising funds through drama.
The Conference Chair Mr. John Mukisa said that maternal and newborn heath cannot be handled separately, since when a mother dies, the baby has ten times the risk of dying, while the partner is left grieving for a long time. He expressed hope that health sciences students will work to save more mothers, by endeavouring to ensure that even those not directly in their care are well-cared for.
The conference was attended by students from Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Gulu University, Victoria University and National University of Rwanda.
It was supported by Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Infectious Diseases Institute at MakCHS, the School of Public Health at MakCHS, Abacus Pharmaceuticals, University Bookshop, and individual departments and MakCHS.