Poverty, distance to facilities and inadequate or poor quality services are some of the main factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth.
This is according to the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, during the launch of National Guideline: Antenatal Care for a Positive Pregnancy Experience and Maternal Record, in the capital on Monday.
He said other documented factors that prevent women from seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth are lack of information, as well as cultural beliefs and practices.
Maternal and perinatal death rates remain a major challenge in Namibia.
Data shows that the ministry recorded 815 macerated still births, 712 neonatal deaths and 428 fresh still births between 2017 and 2018. Between 2020 and March 2021, 1 034 macerated still births, 727 neonatal deaths and 534 fresh still births were recorded.
Shangula said in order to improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services must be identified and addressed at both health system and societal level.
He said to realise this, the ministry has made maternal death a notifiable medical condition and has institutionalised maternal, still births and neonatal death reviews (MSNDR) by creating national, regional, district and health facility maternal, still birth and neonatal death review committees.
“The overall goal is to eliminate preventable maternal deaths and near misses, still births and neonatal deaths through quality improvement strategies derived from the identification and analysis of circumstances around these deaths and near misses,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, said to achieve the goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal deaths, all women and babies need access to affordable and high-quality care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.
“Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these complications develop during pregnancy and most are preventable or treatable. Other complications may exist before pregnancy but are worsened during pregnancy, especially if not managed as part of the woman’s care,” he noted.
Source: Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA)