Due to a lack of health facilities in the flood-prone areas of Kabbe in the Zambezi Region several expectant mothers have resorted to crossing the Namibian border to deliver their babies in neighbouring Zambia.
Most women living along the banks of the Zambezi River in Kabbe Constituency find it difficult to access the Katima Mulilo State Hospital – which provides obstetric services – as it is hours away when they are in labour.
The Katima Mulilo hospital is more than 70 kilometres away from Kabbe.
However, some of these pregnant women in Kabbe, especially those living along the riverbanks, opt to cross into neighbouring Zambia and deliver their babies at Mwandi hospital, which is just a stone’s throw across the Zambezi River.
Ideally a woman classified as low-risk should be within 20 to 30 minutes of a hospital with a labour and delivery unit.
New Era further learned that the practice of giving birth in Zambia has turned out to be problematic for the mothers when they want to acquire national documents for their children at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration – as the kids’ health passports show that they were born in Zambia even though their parents are more Namibians.
Confirming the practice was Kabbe North Constituency Councillor Peter Mwala, who yesterday said the issue has been prevailing for a long time.
He said the current situation, which goes back a long time, is that expectant mothers along the riverbanks find it convenient to cross the river into Zambia to give birth.
“For them it is easier to cross into Zambia and deliver, unlike coming a long distance to Katima Mulilo hospital. When these kids are born in Zambia, they are injected at birth. Once they are injected there, it is difficult for them to get birth certificates in Namibia. Once they give birth in Zambia, they automatically get recorded into Zambian books. That is the problem facing our mothers who deliver in Zambia,” he said.
According to him, when he took office in 2014, he found that such women faced a lot of problems in acquiring national documents for their children.
He said that as a leader he intervened and brought the issue to the attention of government for action.
“Currently as I am speaking to you the ministry of home affairs has identified Luhonono as a potential area. They will dispatch officials who will be stationed there to give national documents. They are just looking for accommodation for these officials,” Mwala noted.
In the meantime, Mwala said, they advise these mothers to go to Zambia to get declarations that they are Namibians who only went to give birth there since Mwandi hospital is closer to them.
The affected women live in villages such as Luhonono, Muzii, Nankutwe, Isize, Sifuha and Malindi, among other areas.
Mwala also said that the government through the Ministry of Health and Social Services agreed to construct a maternity home at Luhonono to minimize the number of expectant mothers crossing into Mwandi in Zambia to deliver their babies.
“We have requested that a maternity home be constructed near the Luhonono clinic for which I am very happy that a feasibility study has been conducted. The Ministry of Health and Social Services has assisted to identify that area and will build a maternity village where expectant mothers will deliver here and not in Zambia. Come next year, the situation will be in order,” said the councillor.
He said it is expected that construction of the maternity village would start before the end of the year.