1 January 2013

Zambia: Siavonga Hospital Out to Curb Maternal Mortality

Medical doctor has observed that the culture set-up is what in most cases moves women to give birth from home.

Siavonga acting district medical officer, Phallon Mwaba said it was therefore important for the community to understand the importance of giving birth at the health institution such as a hospital or clinic.

And Dr Mwaba said in an interview that the medical district office in partnership with the hospital have put in place deliberate measures to reduce maternal mortality.

He said the interventions include the campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal health mortality which would include the training of traditional leaders and the community in identifying the complications in pregnant women and encouraging them to seek medical attention.

He said the campaign funded by Boston University would first be rolled out in Chief Chipepo's area which has been hit most by maternal mortality and then to other parts of the district.

Dr Mwaba said chiefs or their representatives and headmen would be selected in the chiefdom for the training which is likely to commence in December or early January.

"Traditional leaders and the community would be engaged in the campaign and would be trained to identify danger signs in pregnant women and encourage them to go to the health centre," he said.

He said monthly outreach programme in maternal and child health have been put in place in order to reach the remote areas such as the Islands adding that the presence of boats has been a plus.

He added that promotion of safe abortions was another measure being put in place to reduce maternal mortality because a lot of complications or even deaths arose from unsafe abortions.

"Unsafe abortions cause a lot of complication with some of them resulting in death and to avoid such unnecessary deaths, safe abortion has been put in place by government," he said.

He said many who seek such services are avoided by health staff due to Christian morals but should understand that safe abortions have been legalised by law and the service were being

offered in most health centres and in Siavonga at the district hospital and Lusitu rural health centre by strained health staff.

Dr Mwaba, however, said intensive counselling from qualified staff to encourage prevention of unwanted pregnancy from termination was the first step; therefore such services should not be viewed as an advocacy for abortion.

He pointed out that some despite being counselled go ahead and terminate the pregnancy using unsafe ways hence the need to safely abort to reduce maternal mortality.

He said government through the ministry of health have also upgraded the skills of mid-wives and put in place up-to-date equipment to further cut down on the number of women dying while giving birth.

"Mid-wives have been trained by government through the ministry of health to handle complication and reduce maternal mortality," said Dr Mwaba.

Dr Mwaba said Siavonga district has low numbers of maternal mortality and the few cases mainly came from places that were difficult to reach such as the islands but with the committees put in place that

include the district commissioner, such cases are thoroughly investigated.

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