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Maternal deaths higher among rural women

LINDIWE MOZOLA
Pregnancy remains a risk to many women around the world
MAHALAPYE: Women in rural areas make up the majority of the estimated 830 women in 100,000, who die annually from preventable maternal deaths worldwide, Mmegi has learnt.

Mahalapye District Health Management Team (DHMT) representative, Matsae Balosang told a workshop on ending preventable maternal deaths recently, that women in rural areas were particularly susceptible due to lack of access to medical help. Women living in remote areas continue to lose their lives while giving birth, she said.

Balosang revealed that 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

“Within this, the larger share comes from women who live in rural areas and who are also poor as they find it difficult to access medical attention in time.  “The victims usually do not have money for transport to medical facilities. Moreover, they are generally abandoned by their loved ones, leaving them with the burden of looking after children alone,” she said.

In Botswana, since January, 55 women have died while giving birth, with Balosang saying many of these were preventable cases. Compounding the problem are unsafe abortions, mostly amongst adolescents, attitudes by medical practitioners (midwives) and non-attendance of Antenatal Care as per schedule. “Instead of seeking medical attention, women would rather make sacrifices for their children, which is heartbreaking,” she said.

“The question should be about what are we all doing to save them. “We should resolve the issue of access, which still looms in the background. “Remember that behind

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those numbers are actual real human beings and mothers.” Speaking of Botswana’s performance against other middle-income countries, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) health specialist for East and Southern Africa, Dr Muna Abdulla, said the country was not doing well within this category.

Out of 50 middle-income countries, recent UNFPA studies placed Botswana at number 42 in terms of maternal mortality rates. Botswana is however performing far much better when compared to other sub-Saharan countries. 

Abdulla stated that Botswana was doing well in the adolescent birth rate, which measures the number of live births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19 years. The 15 – 19 age range generally has higher chances of still births and maternal deaths and a high adolescent birth rate points to better health care for this sensitive group.

According to Abdulla, Botswana is also performing well in birth attendance by skilled health personnel where it tops upper middle-income countries in Africa. “This is actually very surprising and it is shocking why you are doing badly in preventing maternal deaths while you stand at 99% in terms of birth attendance by skilled personnel,” she said.

“This in fact should contribute a lot in saving lives. It makes me wonder what you are doing wrong.”



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