Today New Era continues with its coverage of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) with a closer look at Pillar 3: Social Progression. The third focal point in this pillar is Infant and Maternal Mortality.
The HPP considers “one mother who dies while giving birth as one mother too many” and the plan therefore suggests that everything must be done to prevent it from happening. The same goes for a child that dies before the age of one. Infant mortality is a global challenge for many and has therefore been prioritised as one of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Namibia has made good progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality but under Harambee the country aims to do even more.
The desired outcomes with respect to infant and maternal mortality during the Harambee period will be a significant reduction in infant and maternal mortality rate by 2020. Specific targets will be determined in year 2 of HPP following improved data collection in year 1 of the plan.
The following strategies and actions will be deployed to ensure a reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates during the Harambee period:
➜ Community Health Workers and Midwives: We will identify, train and deploy community health workers and midwives to identify mothers who are potentially at risk of dying during the delivery process at an early stage and those requiring referral to health facilities for observation and treatment. The midwives will be based in the community, available to assist with and oversee safe home deliveries.
➜ Provision of Equipment: There is a shortage of essential equipment at most health facilities in the country. We will ensure that by the end of the Harambee period, all hospitals delivering babies should have at least one functional ultrasound machine. In the same vein, delivery beds have been ordered for all units and we will ensure that there are functional operating theatres, oxygen, resuscitative and suction points at all times in all maternity wards by the end of the Harambee period.
➜ Essential Component of Obstetric Care: Inaccurate estimation of gestational age is contributing to neonatal deaths and poor maternal outcomes. Multiple pregnancies are also often missed, as are structural anomalies. We will therefore ensure that during the Harambee period quality ultrasound training is introduced countrywide.
➜ Provision of Essential Drugs: We will ensure that essential drugs, such as ergometrine and anti- hypertensives, as well as monitoring equipment, in case of diabetic pregnancies to measure blood sugar level are available to pregnant women. This will allow for women to be discharged earlier, thereby freeing up bed space and minimising risks of infection rates and thrombosis.
➜ Adequate Staffing: Some regions remain short staffed with shortages of midwives and anaesthetists prevalent. We will initiate a rapid recruitment process to ensure a basic minimum of staffing levels at each hospital.
➜ Maternal/Neonatal Transport System: We will, as a matter of urgency, in year one of Harambee introduce a dedicated maternal/neonatal transport system, with dedicated trained staff. This will allow for critically ill babies and mothers to be transferred with oxygen, ventilation or appropriate infusions; thereby reducing deaths on or before arrival at regional health facilities.
➜ Maternal Shelters for Expectant Mothers: Government will fast track the development of shelters for mothers who are travelling from remote rural areas to wait for the delivery of their babies. In this regard, the Social Security Commission has pledged to construct 4 such shelters at hospitals in Outapi, Rundu, Katima Mulilo as well as a clinic at Ausenkehr in //Karas Region. A similar programme funded by the European Union (EU) and supervised by the Office of the First Lady will also be provided with the necessary technical support.
- In our next edition we will take a closer look at Vocational Education and Training within the Social Progression Pillar.