Maternal mortality still a problem

19 October 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia’s maternal mortality rate stands at 195 per 100 000 live births, as the country accelerates efforts to reduce it to less than 70 per 100 000 live births.

According to health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula, Namibia has put women and neonatal health at the forefront of the national health agenda in order to achieve maternal and neonatal health related Sustainable Development Goals.

Globally, in 2017, about 300 000 women died from pregnancy and childbirth related complications, while many were left with lifetime debilitations.

About 94% of deaths occurred in low-resource settings, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for roughly two-thirds of all maternal deaths that could have been prevented.

“Maternal and perinatal death rates remain a major challenge in Namibia. Quality and effective antenatal care reduces complications from pregnancy and delivery, reduces stillbirths and perinatal deaths, and offers an opportunity for integrated care during pregnancy,” he said.

“Namibia has been implementing focused antenatal care since 2014. However, the model with four antenatal care visits was found to increase perinatal mortality and was associated with poor satisfaction in pregnant women and is no longer recommended.”

Eliminate preventable deaths

Shangula made these remarks during the official launch of the Antenatal Care for Positive Pregnancy Experiences initiative on Monday.

According to the minister, the main factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth include poverty, distance to facilities and lack of information.

Meanwhile, inadequate and poor-quality services and cultural beliefs and practices also pose serious challenges, which call for both health system and societal intervention.

“The overall goal is to eliminate preventable maternal deaths and near misses, stillbirths and neonatal deaths through quality improvement strategies derived from the identification and analysis of circumstances around these deaths and near misses,” he said.

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