Denied Ambulance Ride Highlights Issues in Maternal Health in Uganda

18 May. 2013

The sad story of a young pregnant mother whose unborn child died after she was refused a ride in an ambulance to the nearest hospital sheds light on the wider hurdles in maternal health in Uganda.

According to the Daily Monitor, Florence Candiru had been admitted to Olujobo Health Centre III, but was then referred to the Arua Regional Referral Hospital by health workers at the facility. However, Candiru was told that the ambulance would be transporting health workers for training – rather than taking her to the referral hospital.

Refused medical transport, Candiru’s family had to flag down a passing lorry carrying goats, charcoal, firewood and sacks of cassava to secure the pregnant mother a ride to the Arua Regional Referral Hospital. Moreover, Candiru had to pay the equivalent of $50.00 for the ride in the back of the truck.

Maternal Health Issues Caused by a Lack of Transport

The immediate issue of a lack of suitable transportation options is a difficult one for Uganda. Outside of the capital city Kampala, Uganda is a very rural country with few paved roads and many hills. The problem prevents many women and pregnant mothers from accessing medical treatment. As is evidenced in Candiru’s story, women are often forced to rely on unconventional and unsafe means to transport themselves to hospitals and clinics.

Lack of Training for Medical Staff in Uganda

In considering this tragic story, the Executive Director of ARH, Francoise R. Kauzya, offered her insight:

“That the medical staff saw getting a ride to the training as more important than the health and well being of a woman pregnant with child is a major issue. At ARH, we are working to provide training to the health workers in the Ntungamo District so that they will have a solid understanding of their professional duties and responsibilities.”

Dedicated to Improving Maternal Health in Uganda

Action for Reproductive Health (ARH) is a Uganda-based non-profit organisation dedicated to the improvement of reproductive and maternal health in rural Uganda. ARH seeks to actively involve men in addressing these key issues.

As a matter of practice, ARH works to strengthen and sustain the ability of Uganda’s public and private health providers and health workers to meet the reproductive, maternal and child health needs of the country.

For more information about Action for Reproductive Health, please contact Francoise R. Kauzya on +001 732 423 2370 or via email at