Namibia: Safe Motherhood Initiative Launched

Okahao — The Office of the First Lady Monica Geingos together with Ongwediva Medipark Academic Hospital once again hosted the Safe Motherhood Initiative campaign, which seeks to educate expecting mothers and their families on the importance of antenatal care.

This year the campaign was hosted at Okahao, Ongandjera Traditional Authority Open Hall on Monday this week.

More than 153 expecting mothers were screened. The expectant mothers received antenatal screening which included haemoglobin tests, haemoglucotest, blood pressure, height and nutritional assessment.

Women also received iron and vitamin supplements.

The patron of Safe Motherhood Initiative, First Lady Geingos, who was the keynote speaker, said infections, hypertension and diabetes continue to have a significant influence on the pregnancy outcome, therefore the focus of the campaign is on nutrition, hygiene, management of infections, hypertension and diabetes, among others.

"This is in line with and complementing our government's efforts in tackling infant and maternal mortalities," she said.

She stressed that fathers abandoning their expecting partners has become a norm, which denies their children the opportunity to develop healthily as mothers are often stressed out by having to deal with the situation by themselves.

"We need the involvement of men when their wives and girlfriends are pregnant. We need their involvement in their children's lives even if they are no longer involved with the mother of their child. The most powerful contribution to nationhood that all of us can give is to raise our children correctively and we don't need to be together to do that," she said.

She noted it is still very disappointing that a lot of young children end up impregnated by very senior men that take advantage of them and end up infecting the young mothers.

Ongwediva Medipark Private Hospital has completed bathrooms for the awaiting mothers shelter home to the cost of N$17 000.

Geingos was accompanied by a team made up of dieticians, obstetricians, gynaecologists, medical practitioners, midwives, paediatricians and other allied healthcare practitioners including nurses from Okahao, Tsandi, Outapi, Oshakati, Ongwediva Medipark, as well as Unam student nurses.

Geingos said the reason she is an active and energetic supporter of safe motherhood is because it's really the most consequential maternal health programme not only in Namibia.

Cervical cancer is one of the most deadly diseases that kills a high number of women in the country, despite it being curable.

She furthermore emphasised that maternal health is just not a woman's issue but a community issue.

"I also noticed from our teenage pregnancy statistics that with many of the pregnant girls, teenagers, the fathers deny paternity. We can't build a nation of fatherless children," she added. According to the first lady, statistics show that girls between the age of 16 and 24 have higher rates of HIV infection than boys of the same age.

She stood firm that she will not stop talking when a number of issues pertaining to health need to be addressed.

"I will start talking less about it when adolescent girls don't have a higher proportion of HIV than adolescent boys. I will talk less about it when there are no babies born with HIV in Namibia. I will talk less about it when practical health information reaches our communities. I will talk less about it when [it changes] that one in three girls, the first time they have sex it's forced not consensual. I will talk less about it when we end gender-based violence, especially sexual violence," she stressed.

Geingos also warned men not to become fathers until they are ready - it's the same message to adolescent girls and young women because it turns young people into the poverty cycle because of unplanned pregnancies.

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