Include women with disabilities in maternal programmes in Uganda
Uganda recently joined the rest of the world to celebrate safe motherhood. There are many initiatives in Uganda geared at educating women and men in reproductive health, especially family planning methods.
However, women with disabilities and their partners have been left out of reproductive health programmes, especially family planning and HIV/AIDS. Uganda needs to carry out a health check to fill the gaps and make sure that every section of the population is on board.
We should not underestimate women with disabilities. They have sexual rights and needs and want to be mothers. These are women who are discriminated against either intentionally or unintentionally by their families, communities and society.
This discrimination is evident even in the health sector. Many of them die giving birth in health centres which are not disability friendly and they are exposed to sex-related infections such as HIV/AIDS because they have no power to negotiate for safe sex.
Most women with disabilities are suffering double discrimination. They are disabled and also ignorant of their rights and needs. For example, most of them think it is a favour from a man to have sex.
However, women with disabilities are open to new information, seek knowledge and speak to some people on their needs. The Government should provide them with training and sensitisation programmes on family planning and other health methods.
This will enable women with disabilities make informed decisions. Their partners need to be included in the sensitisation and training programmes on reproductive health.
Health workers should also receive training on the needs of women with disabilities. This will help them have safe birth and healthy children. There are many organisations for disabled people in Uganda. These should be the starting point when seeking to reach women with disabilities.
As we plan for safe motherhood for all mothers in Uganda, we should not forget women with disabilities and their partners. They are part of the Millennium Development Goals which concern children and maternal health.
The writer is the Information officer for The National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU)