Editor's Comment

Pay attention to baby boom

THAT Kanyama hospital is delivering 900 babies a month resulting in three mothers to share a bed is a serious call to expedite the expansion of the health facility.
Kanyama Level One acting nursing officer Christine Nyoni told Public Service Management Division (PSMD) Permanent Secretary Boniface Chimbwali and Public Service Commission chairperson Dickson Chasaya that the hospital delivers between 20 and 40 babies per day.
“We have a challenge with beds, we have 14 beds and out of these, three are reserved for post-caesar mothers and the rest have to share the remaining beds,” she said.
It is indisputable that the situation at Kanyama clinic is a matter that requires immediate attention to safeguard lives.
While it is commendable that the process of upgrading and expanding the health facility is already in progress, there is certainly need to expedite the process to safeguard lives.
This is because the expansion of Kanyama level One Hospital is long overdue given the prevailing situation.
For a hospital that serves a catchment area of more than 200,000 people, it is practically impossible to deliver quality health care with limited bed spaces and staff.
Kanyama hospital is estimated to have one of the highest client base averaging 2,000.
What is of concern is that these patients all compete for about 40 bed spaces.
Worse off is the maternity ward where 20 to 40 women have to compete for 14 bed spaces every day.
Such conditions could discourage expectant mothers from seeking medical services.
This is for obvious reasons that people go to deliver at the hospital to get a good service that they would not get at home.
If women who go to the hospital to deliver are subjected to sharing beds, this may compel some to opt for traditional birth attendants in the comfort of their homes.
However, this is a risky undertaking in case of complications during delivery.
As a country that is working to reduce maternal deaths, the situation at Kanyama hospital negates efforts to do so.
This is because a hospital like Kanyama caters mostly for the poor who cannot afford to access services at private hospitals.
If Kanyama hospital records up to 40 births per day, it is also obvious that the midwives are overworked thereby compromising quality service delivery.
While it is acknowledged that Government has been working hard to improve health service delivery in the country, it is clear that the task is huge.
This is because as the population of the country increased over decades, the health infrastructure remained static.
As a result, health facilities which were meant to cater for a small number of people are today accommodating huge numbers, thereby compromising quality health service delivery.
This is why Government has been in a hurry to build health infrastructure as witnessed by the ambitious project to construct 650 health posts across the country.
It is also worth noting that Government initiated the upgrade of clinics, including Kanyama, to cater for a bigger population and reduce congestion at the University Teaching Hospital.
This is evidence that Government is alive to the challenges of inadequate health facilities much needed for quality health care.
We therefore implore those tasked with the responsibility of implementing the expansion of Kanyama clinic to work speedily knowing that lives are at stake.
While increasing infrastructure and medical staff is one way of addressing the problem at Kanyama clinic, we believe the birth rate in Kanyama is on the rapid side.
Forty babies born every day is too high a number, and therefore puts a strain on health infrastructure and medical personnel.
The high birth rate is an indicator of the need to heighten sensitisation on family planning.
Given that most of the population in the catchment area is poor, the chances are that some have no means to support large families.
Instead of limiting their operation area to health centres, health personnel should go into communities to carry out family planning sensitisation.
This way, people will be helped to plan their families, and unnecessary strain on the health sector will be minimised.

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