Okongo to Get New Maternal Health Facility

EXPECTANT women in the district of Okongo in Ohangwena region, who normally travel long distances to reach health facilities, will soon have access to a state-of-the-art maternity waiting home.The availability of this modern facility will alleviate the suffering that pregnant women endure during the erection of their own make-shift tents to stay closer to health facilities in order to avoid crises during pregnancy, child birth and postpartum period.

The construction of the facility is estimated to cost about N$2 million.

“Women and children, especially pregnant women and girl children, are at high risk of many health, social and economical atrocities. They are even the victims of preventable deaths such as maternal and child mortality as well as gender-based violence,” First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba said in her keynote address during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the new maternity waiting home at Okongo on Wednesday.

She said that the Okongo district is one of the many vast districts with scattered communities in the region, with poor road infrastructures, long distances to health facilities, lack of transport and poor communication networks.

Pohamba further said that the construction of the maternity waiting home is part of the programme for accelerating the reduction of maternal and child mortality (PARMaCM), which is a joint partnership between the health ministry, the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The programme was launched last year in February and it will run until 2016, with a budget of 10 million Euro.

Andemichael Ghirmay, the WHO country representative for Namibia, said that maternal waiting homes create an opportunity to educate women and plant the seed for positive behavioural change that includes exclusive breastfeeding, family planning and prevention of HIV-AIDS, amongst others.

“If optimally utilised, maternity waiting homes can transform women to be change agents in communities,” said Ghirmay.

Ghirmay said that maternal and child mortalities are showing a decreasing trend compared to the figures in the late 1990’s.

Globally maternal deaths have declined from 585 000 in the 1990’s to 287 000 in 2012, with a 51% reduction and globally, under five deaths have declined from 12 million in the 1990’s to 6.9 million in 2011, with a 43% reduction.

PARMaCM will equip the maternal waiting home with the necessary equipment needed for the pregnant women to stay comfortably, once the construction is completed in August this year.

The Ohangwena regional council and Okongo constituency made the provision of land and will handle the day-to-day operations of the facility.

Okongo district is one of the six districts to benefit from the partnership.

Source : The Namibian