Madame Pohamba advocate for improved maternal care
Windhoek ‑ Namibian First Lady, Penehupifo Pohamba, has urged government and the private sector to help build maternal shelters for expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies to bring them close to the hospital.
The majority of pregnant women in Namibia have access to prenatal care, but the country continues losing a large number of newborn babies due to the long distance the mothers have to travel to reach the nearest hospital.
The issue of long distances and lack of outreach programmes to isolated communities, places the women at risk.
In order to improve maternal health, Pohamba said her office has embarked on projects to construct maternity waiting homes close to the hospitals across the country.
The office has already started building houses in populated areas such as Okongo in Ohangwena region and Outapi in Omusati region.
But, the First Lady who also serves as the Patron of Maternal and Child Health in Namibia, said the process is moving at a snail’s pace due to lack of funds.
She said building the maternal homes should be the responsibility of all Namibians.
“We need a comprehensive approach if we want to make an impact. The Ministry of Health and Social Services cannot do it alone. Let us all unite, assist and actively participate in these campaigns,” she said.
She explained that initiatives like the maternal shelters would encourage expectant mothers to seek assistance at health centres, adding that this will go a long in reducing maternal and child deaths.
Pohamba made the clarion call for financial assistance during the launch of the Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality programme in Namibia (PARMaCA) recently in the capital.
The four-year programme funded by the European Union for R100 million is aimed at accelerating the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals on maternal mortality.
The programme will focus on improvement of emergency obstetric and neonatal care services, capacity building for health care workers and communities, support nutrition programmes and the delivery of necessary equipment such as ambulances.
Namibia is among the countries in the region with high maternal mortality. The lifetime risk of maternal death in Namibia was last reported at 160 in 2010, according to a World Bank report published in 2012.
According to the World health Organisation (WHO), 287 000 women die every year in developing countries, with the Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounting for 85 percent.
Namibia has been trying to reduce preventable child deaths through various national initiatives and has become one of the first countries in Africa to launch a campaign on accelerating the reduction of maternal mortality. The campaign, CARMMA, was launched during the Fourth Session of AU Conference of Ministers of Health held in Addis Ababa in May 2009.
This campaign aims to accelerate and scale-up the availability and use of universal accessible quality maternal and child health services, including sexual and reproductive health.
The country is expected to reduce its maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and its child mortality by two thirds by 2015.