Analysis: MUMBA MWANSA
MATERNAL mortality is one of the issues the country is still grappling with as the number of deaths per 100,000 births is still high. What measures are Government and other stakeholders putting in place in order to help alleviate this challenge to acceptable numbers?
In 2017, Zambia Maternal Health co-ordinator Swebby Macha said Government, through the Ministry of Health, embarked on a National Health Survey Plan 2017-2021, which targets to reduce maternal mortality ratio to 100 per 100,000 live births by 2021.
Dr Macha said the ministry has put in place a number of interventions such as having skilled attendants at birth, on-site mentorship on emergency obstetrical and neonatal care, strengthening the maternal and neonatal referral system, and comprehensive abortion care among others.
With such measures being implemented, the Ministry of Health has assured the public of having a reduced maternal mortality ratio of 100 per 100,000 live births from the current 398 deaths per 100,000 live births, as stated in the Zambia Demographic Health Survey report of 2013/ 2014.
This is commendable, especially with the alarming worldwide statistics as recorded by the World Health Organisation, which indicate that maternal mortality is still very high with a record of 830 women dying from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day.
During the course of 2016, I recall how depressed and anxious I was when my gynecologist from a private health institution advised that I deliver from the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) due to other complications I had encountered in my pregnancy.
With some negative stories and rumours that people have been publicising about UTH, it was just a no-go-area for me. But with so much assurance from different gynecologists on my safety and after conducting a personal tour and inquiry at the UTH maternity ward, I was convinced and gave in to deliver from there.
So when that time came, I went to UTH, where I was admitted in the High Cost ward and I can assure you that for sure Government is trying its best to reduce maternal deaths. Upon admission, a medical attendant was assigned to me, who frequently checked on my progress as I underwent the process of childbirth. I must confess that the care and treatment I received were commendable and my prayer is that the services be maintained and extended to each and every expecting mother if we are to help in reducing the maternal mortality ration in not only our country, but the world at large.
However, in 2017, we heard quite a number of negative stories about the services being provided at the Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital maternity ward. I would therefore like to appeal to Government, through the Ministry of Health, to introduce and implement mechanisms such as those at UTH, which will help in combating maternal deaths.
Maternal mortality is one issue that affects everyone, whether directly or indirectly. It is one challenge that has been claiming a good number of our dear mothers, sisters and aunties and grandmothers’ lives as they are in the process of bringing life onto this earth.
There is nothing as disheartening as escorting a woman to the hospital to deliver, only for the hospital staff to inform one that they have lost their loved one due to either negligence by the health personnel or simply nature taking its course.
Since time immemorial, there has been a blame game between medical personnel and expecting mothers, but the most important question to all of us is, are we combating the problem of maternal deaths? In my view, there is an urgent need for both medical personnel and members of the public, especially women, to work together in this fight.
Together and with commitment, we shall achieve the sustainable development goal, which targets to reduce the global maternity rate to at least 70 deaths per 100,000 live births. #letsfightmaternaldeaths
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sub-editor. firstname.lastname@example.org