Namibia’s First Lady Monica Geingos said it is the responsibility of every Namibian to ensure that a girl child is protected and well equipped with information about sex, contraceptives, pregnancy and motherhood.
While officially launching the first ever Safe Motherhood Annual Campaign held on Saturday at Ongwediva Medipark private hospital, Geingos said society is quick to judge young girls and women when they fall victim to teenage and unwanted pregnancies, or when they become perpetrators of baby dumping, yet it is the same society that failed in educating them.
“When you hear of baby dumping your heart breaks that an innocent has lost a life under such circumstances, but at the same time I find it so hard to judge. If a woman has no access to information, no access to contraception, if she has no societal support and she has no access to a midwife, why judge her? Until we provide women with information and give them access to contraceptives and give them support, we have no right to judge them,” said Geingos.
According to the first lady, nowadays children are becoming sexually active at a very young age, thus educating them on safe motherhood should start at an early age. That way a woman will start making right choices at an early age, other than finding themselves in situations where they are carrying unwanted pregnancies.
Geingos further noted that contrary to popular belief, children are not retirement funds. According to her, women are made to believe that having children is an insurance that they will be cared for in retirement.
“But if I want to be cared for in my old age I can buy myself a retirement benefit. Every woman should be given the right to decide if and when she wants to have children. Women should not be forced into having children anymore. Let them decide if they want to have children and if they do, when do they want them,” she said.
The first lady further urged nurses to stop asking young women and girls ‘police’ questions whenever they get contraceptives or antenatal care from hospitals.
She also urged men to take responsibility and support their women and children.
Geingos also applauded Ongwediva Medipark for coming up with the Safe Motherhood Annual Campaign, maintaining that Medipark is a private hospital with a public sector at heart. According to her the northern-based hospital is also one of a few hospitals that appreciate and hire skills of other Africans.
“Leadership and the spirit of Harambee is here [at Medipark]. This hospital is a good example of pan-Africanism, because we are quick to bring people from overseas when we have qualified people here at neighbouring countries,” she adds.
The Director of Medipark, Tshali Iithete, said the Safe Motherhood Annual Campaign is a day dedicated to the health needs of expecting mothers.
Iithete said from now onwards, the campaign will be held annually in addition to two other special days on the Medipark calendar such as the breast, cervical and prostate cancer awareness campaigns that have been successful over the past four years.
“As a result we are invited to present an abstract at the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (FIGO) Conference in Vancouver, Canada on the findings of the data collected during the screening process, free Pap smear and breast examination,” said Iithete.
Over 2 000 women were screened during the breast and cervical cancer awareness campaigns since their inception four years ago.