As reported in yesterday edition of Mmegi, the recent workshop on maternal deaths in Mahalapye had shocking revelations that an estimated 830 out of 100,000 women die annually from preventable maternal deaths worldwide.
Rural women were the most affected, and many in the Sub Saharan region.
Even more shocking for Botswana, which is said to be doing badly, coming 44 out of 50 countries surveyed, the country has some of the most skilled manpower such as midwives. The observation is that some pregnant mothers are unable to travel to health facilities because of shortage of transport, making them miss Ante Natal Care as per schedule. The questions that arise from the mismatch of failure to save lives visa vis availability of skilled manpower should make us all wonder what it is we are doing wrong.
Is it the attitude of health professionals towards pregnant women? Is it the attitude of pregnant women towards health workers? Or, could there be a problem of information dissemination to pregnant women. The fact is that majority of midwives are women and they should be at the forefront of giving care and support for fellow women.
Another possibility that the authorities should investigate is the lack of transport for pregnant women to the nearest health facility. Living in rural areas is horrible and there are very limited opportunities for women to make any source of income to have enough money to travel during the entire duration of the pregnancy.
Even if the money is available, there are places where public transport is so scarce to a point that a traveller spends hours at a hiking stop before a vehicle passes by. This therefore calls for the government to intensify provision of mobile clinics to make scheduled visits to some settlements. This initiative is applied by other government departments and stakeholders such as Botswana Meat Commission, which makes scheduled visits to purchase cattle; magistrate mobile circuit courts; veterinary services for rabies vaccination, and others. The figures show that the District Health Management Teams need to do more to save lives of pregnant mothers and newborn babies who unfortunately have to pay with their lives. As a middle-income country, Botswana should not be among countries that are unable to prevent maternal deaths, especially that the government spends millions of pula annually to train health professionals among them midwives. We should be far ahead in attaining United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 3 of ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’.
We also need to put more effort in changing attitudes towards each other – patient and nurse to prevent this anomaly. We should also review the training of nurses and emphasise patience, compassion, and empathy.
“Maternal health remains a staggering challenge, particularly in the developing world. Globally, a woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute.”
- Jessica Capshaw