Columnists Features

Increased infrastructure promotes maternal health

A NEWLY-BUILT maternity ward at Kabundi Clinic was commissioned in January this year by Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde.

NKWETO MFULA, Chingola
CHINGOLA a predominantly mining town has a population of about 210,823, according to the Central Statistical Office’s 2010 census, with females accounting for 48.9 percent and males 51.1 percent.
Chingola’s average population growth rate for Chingola stands at 0.5 percent per annum.
The district is among the 11 towns in Zambia under the Millennium Development Goal initiative (MDGi) aimed at accelerating progress towards reduction of maternal, neonatal and child morbidity as well as mortality in the country.
The government, European union and United Nations are supporting the implementation of an ambitious MDGi project over a 48-month period aimed at improving the availability, demand and quality of health and nutrition services in selected districts namely Ndola, Luanshya, Masaiti, Mufulira, Kitwe and Lusaka.
The rest are Chilanga, Kafue, Rufunsa, Chongwe and Chingola.
The MDGi targets MDGs that is nutrition, reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health.
The EU aims to reach more than 30 percent of the Zambian population who reside in the 11 targeted districts in Lusaka and the Copperbelt Provinces.
According to EU, its MDGi programme budget for Zambia is €50 million (or more than K400 million).
To demonstrate its commitment to the final push to reach the MDGs, the EU committed €1 billion in funding between, 2013 to 2017, aimed at accelerating progress towards the achievement of these goals, with an emphasis on Africa.
The EU notes that of the 14 countries in Africa benefiting from EU-United Nations partnership, Zambia has received the second largest contribution.
With the MDGi in focus, the Zambian Government has accelerated the development of health infrastructure and in Chingola, this has culminated into the reduction of maternal mortality.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says about 53 percent of maternal deaths are as a result of complications arising from home deliveries.
UNICEF manager for the MDGi programme Jonas Mwale said most deaths were a result of the distance from people’s homes to health centres, which are unbearable for pregnant women who are in labour.
Dr Mwale attributed some deaths to lack of knowledge by community birth attendants.
According to UNICEF statistics, 47 percent births in Zambia were attended to by skilled health workers at health institutions, while the remaining births were done at homes.
Dr Mwale said there is need for increased sensitisation of mothers on the dangers of home-based deliveries and encouraging them to give birth at health centres.
He said there is also need to sensitise people on the dangers of teenage pregnancies and the adverse effects that they pose to the under-developed bodies of adolescents.
However, Chingola medical officer Charles Sakulanda says the district has experienced a reduction in maternal deaths, with three deaths being recorded in the first quarter of this year.
He said during the same period in 2015, Chingola recorded 13 maternal deaths, while 16 women died in 2014 during the period under review.
“We have seen a good reduction in maternal deaths,” he said.
Dr Sakulanda said the construction of a modern maternity ward at Kabundi Clinic is commitment enough that Government is doing everything possible to better healthcare delivery in the district.
In a month, over 150 babies are delivered at Kabundi Clinic whose catchment area is about 52,000 people.
While at Chawama Clinic in Chiwempala, with a catchment of 63,000 people, over 250 babies are delivered per month.
Before the construction of the maternity ward at a cost of K900,000, Kabundi Clinic only had one delivery bed, and expectant mothers had to make use of the antenatal section.
There are now six delivery beds in the new ward, with another six beds for antenatal and ten beds for postnatal.
“The new labour ward is well organised with modern equipment. Mothers are now delivering in a conducive environment,” Dr Sakulanda said.
Another Government milestone in healthcare service delivery in Chingola is the construction of the K850,000 Kapisha-Luano Mini Hospital which was opened to the public last year.
Kapisha residents are now accessing primary health care closer to their homes.
In a quest to further improve maternal health, Government in partnership with the resident development committee to extend the maternity ward at Chawama Clinic at a cost of K1 million. The project is being funded through the Constituency Development Fund and 98 percent works have already been done.
Furthermore, Chawama Clinic has been upgraded into a district hospital.
Dr Sakulanda said the new medical facility will have six delivery beds, six antenatal beds and 10 for postnatal services.
Similarly, a new maternity ward and mothers’ shelter is almost complete at Kasompe Clinic and this will result into the health institution operating a 24-hours basis
Currently, Kasompe Clinic closes at 18:00 hours, after which patients seek medical services either at Chawama Clinic or Nchanga North General Hospital.
These developments have cheered Chingola residents who have commended Government for its policies in the health sector
Joyce Mwewa 34, a Soweto resident said the improvement of maternal health services will allow mothers to give birth in dignity.
Mrs Mwewa, a mother of five children, recalled that before the construction of the maternity wing at Kabundi Clinic, a lot of mothers opted to give birth from homes.
“When the maternity ward had one delivery bed, some people were delivering on floor beds, with some opting to deliver from homes,” she said.
Mrs Mwewa commended Government for increasing delivery beds in the newly built ward.
With all these efforts aimed at improving maternal health, the onus is now on health personnel to sensitise communities on the need for pregnant women to seek health services on time and give birth in facilities where they can be attended to by skilled medical personnel.

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