Maternal and newborn mortality remain high: Islam

19 Aug 2015 09:50am
ONGWEDIVA, 19 AUG (NAMPA) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Namibia, Dr Monir Islam says 10 to 15 per cent of deliveries in Namibian rural areas take place at home without adequate and timely critical maternity care.
Islam said this whilst speaking at the beginning of the fifth Doctors and Dentists Annual Forum at Ongwediva in the Oshana Region on Tuesday.
He said although Namibia is well ahead of many African countries in bringing maternity care to the majority of the women in need of it, maternal and newborn mortality remain high in the country.
“We need to ask what we need first - more quantity or improved quality of maternity services,” Islam stated.
He added that while Namibia is looking for universal access to maternity care services, the issue of quality service must be addressed urgently.
Without access to public transport, Islam said, impoverished pregnant women from the rural communities travel substantial distances of over 100 kilometres to reach the nearest health centres.
“Some set out but leave too late, and give birth along the way,” the WHO diplomat explained, adding that other pregnant women arrive at healthcare centres when complications have set in and it is too late to save the baby or the mother.
Islam said it is thus important to ensure that pregnant women have guaranteed access to antenatal care, childbirth care or postpartum treatment administered by trained healthcare providers.
He emphasised that no mother, pregnant woman or baby deserves to die and, as such, the Namibian Government in cooperation with the WHO and other partners is working hard to strengthen improved access to quality of maternal, newborn and child health services in the country.
The theme of the three-day forum is ‘Improving quality through partnership with patients’. It is being attended by a number of medical doctors and dentists from all over Namibia.
The forum ends Thursday.