Maternal and newborn mortality remain high: Islam

ONGWEDIVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Namibia, Dr Monir Islam says 10 to 15 per cent of deliveries in Namibian rural areas take place at home without adequate and timely critical maternity care.

Islam said this whilst speaking at the beginning of the 5th Doctors and Dentists Annual Forum at Ongwediva in the Oshana Region on Tuesday.

Although Namibia is well ahead of many African countries in making maternity care to majority of its populations, Islam charged maternal and newborn mortality remains high in the country.

“We need to ask the question, what do we need first now, more quantity or improved quality of maternity services,” Islam stated.

He added that while Namibia is looking for universal access to maternity care services, the issue of quality services must urgently be addressed.

Without access to any public transport, Islam said, impoverished pregnant women from the rural communities travel substantial distances of over 100km to reach the nearest health centres.

“Some set out, but have left too late, and give birth along the way,” the WHO diplomat explained, adding that other pregnant women arrive at the healthcare centres when complications have set in and too late to save the baby or the mother.

According to Islam, it is thus important to ensure that pregnant women have guaranteed access to antenatal care, childbirth care or postpartum treatment administered by highly trained healthcare providers.

He emphasized that no mother, pregnant woman or baby deserves to die and, as such, the Namibian government in cooperation with WHO and other partners is working hard to strengthen improved access to quality of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Services in Namibia.

“Improving Quality through Partnership with Patients” is the theme of the three-day forum, which is attended by a number of medical doctors and dentists from all over Namibia.

It comes to an end on Thursday.