SWAKOPMUND: Namibian First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba successfully conducted a consultative meeting on maternal and child health with traditional and community leaders in the Erongo Region on Friday.
Issues discussed included health as well as socio-economic and developmental challenges faced by society.
Pohamba placed specific focus on maternal and child health issues during pregnancy, delivery and nursing as well as breastfeeding.
She indicated that in her capacity as patron of the Maternal and Child Health Agenda in Namibia, she wants to place emphasis on health of the mother and child within the family, and in the community at large.
“We must remember that development is about by and for people. I have come to you to join efforts together to advocate for increased awareness of and strengthen interventions in addressing the issues challenging the health and wellbeing of our communities,” she told the community members present at the meeting.
In most of the diverse cultures, mothers in particular and women in general are perceived to be the caretakers of children and the family.
“The presence of a healthy mother in the family is very important, and it is crucial to concentrate on the health of children, especially girls and women, if we want to have healthy families and a healthy Namibian nation,” the First Lady said.
She added that with regards to maternal and child mortality, the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ statistics show that there are a high number of deaths of mothers as well as deaths of children under the ages of five years in Namibia.
Maternal death is the death of the mother due to pregnancy-related complications, while child mortality refers to the death of a child before they reach the age of five.
Death occurs due to miscarriages any time during pregnancy, delivery or within six weeks thereafter.
“I have learned that amongst the causes of maternal and child mortality, there are various delays that cause pregnant mothers and their babies to die before or after arriving at health facilities,” Pohamba noted.
These delays are either that pregnant mothers take too long in deciding to go to a health facility or ante-natal care for delivery; some never attend ante-natal clinics until they are full-term, and some decide to deliver at home under the care of traditional birth attendants, of which many are not trained.
Another delay is that the pregnant women reach a health facility late due to a lack of transport, or those living in rural areas stay long distances away from health facilities.
The First Lady indicated that these deaths left her puzzled with questions such as what had gone wrong, what information could community leaders give to the mothers, and what could be done to support Government’s efforts?
“We must inform the people that each pregnancy is unique, and any pregnancy may develop a complication at any stage,” she noted.
She then strongly advised that all pregnant women must register at their nearest clinics and attend ante-natal services so that if there are any potential complications, these would be detected and attended to so as to prevent the loss of any life.
As leaders in their respective capacities, the development of the country lies in their hands. Therefore, she sought the co-operation and commitment of these leaders present at the meeting to convey the message to their communities, Pohamba said.