CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe
UNDER the rush of labour pains, Elizabeth Malambo arrived at Makululu Clinic around 19:34 hours one good Friday recently.
By 21:36 hours, Mrs Malambo was not in pain anymore and sleeping beside her was a new-born baby weighing 2.9kg.
Although she was looking frail, her face was radiating with joy as she gazed at her bouncy baby girl.
Before that, when time to deliver her third-born child came, Mrs Malambo only covered a short distance to Makululu Clinic nested in Kabwe’s most densely populated township.
While Mrs Malambo was busy cuddling her new-born baby, nurses ushered into the labour ward another expectant mother, Elizabeth Chanda.
Mrs Chanda checked in the labour ward at about 23:40 hours and by 06:12 hours the following morning, she had given birth to a baby girl who, like Mrs Malambo’s daughters weighed 2.9kg.
“I am just happy that I was well received when I came and I have given birth to a healthy baby,” Mrs Malambo said.
Mrs Chanda was equally happy to have given birth to a bouncing baby in the newly-built maternity wing.
Before the opening of the maternity section at Makululu Clinic, pregnant women in the township were referred to Kasanda Clinic about 2.5km away for child birth.
This was despite expectant mothers receiving antenatal services at Makululu Clinic.
And in cases of complications, expectant mothers were referred to Kabwe General Hospital, which is about 4km away.
Makululu Clinic has nine zones and records about 841 pregnancies and 810 deliveries, according to the Central Province medical office.
A few mothers around the clinic’s catchment give birth in their homes, especially in the rainy season when the roads in the community become impassable.
Twenty cases of home deliveries were recorded in 2016, 19 in 2017, seven in the first quarter of 2018 and three in the second quarter of the year.
“This maternity ward will help us because when you look at the population, it is quite big and we have a high volume of mothers,” Valerie Mhango, nurse-in-charge at Makululu Clinic, said.
“So instead of them going to Kasanda Clinic, the labour ward has been brought to their door-step so that we avoid home deliveries.”
Ms Mhango said cases of home deliveries in Makululu township, which has about 28,006 people in its catchment area, was a source of concern.
She observed that home deliveries are most common when it rains and the roads become impassable.
“At all costs, no mother should give birth at home. All mothers are supposed to give birth at a health facility where there are skilled health personnel. We have to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates,” Ms Mhango said.
Makululu Clinic, which was built with funding from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), was opened in 1994.
The maternity ward built at the cost of K630,000 by the Ministry of Health with supplementary funding from Bwacha CDF, adds to the already existing infrastructure at Makululu Clinic.
With nine beds, the maternity ward is equipped with three incubators among other equipment.
Makululu Ward councillor Victor Kolala said the opening of a maternity wing at the clinic is in line with Government’s desire to improve the delivery of quality healthcare services.
Mr Kolala is happy that with the maternity wing in the vicinity, the women of Makululu will have easy access to maternity services, including deliveries attended by qualified health personnel.
He noted with dismay that before the maternity ward was opened at Makululu Clinic, some women were giving birth in their homes, while others would do so on their way to Kabwe General Hospital or Kasanda Clinic.
“The coming of this facility will help to stop maternal deaths and also encourage women to give birth in healthcare facilities,” Mr Kolala said.
Kabwe district medical director Tiza Mfune said the opening of a maternity wing in Makululu is a big achievement because this has brought healthcare services closer to pregnant women in the township.
“It will contribute significantly to quality maternal health and child health, which are very critical interventions and priority areas to improve the health of our people,” Dr Mfune said.
And regardless of social status, every woman needs to have the best child birth experience because pregnancy and child birth are normal life processes, Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga said.
“The government has put in place several strategies to ensure that no woman dies from pregnancy-related complications,” Mr Mushanga, who is Bwacha constituency legislator, said.
“This is the reason why we have continued to expand health services in our facilities to ensure that communities receive a complete care package at every level of healthcare.”
A cross-section of people in Makululu witnessed the opening of the maternity wing, among these were men who accompanied their partners.
One of them was Misael Semo, who was happy to witness the occasion and shared that the opening of a maternity wing at the health facility was long overdue.
“We are happy that after many years, we now have a maternity section here at Makululu Clinic because pregnant women have been having challenges when their time to give birth comes,” the 70 year-old Semo said.
Mr Semo, whose house is located near the clinic, has lived in Makululu for 30 years. He has been looking forward to the expansion of the facility so that it could provide other medical services.
“We expect that when our women come here, they will receive maximum support and respect from health workers,” Mr Semo said.
Coincidentally, Mrs Malambo and Mrs Chanda, both called Elizabeth, gave birth to baby girls both weighing 2.9kg became the first women to give birth in the new maternity wing at Makululu Clinic.
CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe