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Tuesday, 28 April 2015 15:09

'Every maternal death is a catastrophe'

Written by  Fostina Mkandawire



Minister of Health Dr. Jean Kalilani - File Photo


Lilongwe, April 28, 2015: Minister of Health Dr. Jean Kalilani said every single maternal death is a catastrophe to the concerned household, society, health system and the nation.
The minister made the statement on Monday in Lilongwe during a 2014/2015 Mid-year health review meeting.

She said she will personally see to it that the Ministry of Health undertakes well designed investigations to examine and address the root causes of the high maternal deaths.

Kalilani revealed that during the period of July-December, 2014, a total of 328 maternal deaths were recorded in the reporting facilities, considering that, for the catchment areas covered by the reporting facilities, 96 percent of the births are facility based.

“These unwarranted deaths point to the fact that pregnant women are coming to health facilities to deliver, but the quality of health care is not adequate enough to prevent these maternal deaths,” she explained.

She disclosed that as part of improving the quality of care, the Ministry of Health has already set up a Quality Management Unit which will look comprehensively at issues around quality, improvement, and assurance.

“Specifically for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) services, the ministry has initiated a number of projects to improve quality of care in facilities with support from development partners,” she said.

Adding that, “I hope that these projects will be effectively implemented to deliver the desired results.”

According to the 2014/2015 Mid-year health review report, between July and December 2014 there were 240,527 births of which 230,700 (96 Percent) happened at a health facility while the remainder of 9,828 births happened outside health facilities.

The report also says there is an improvement considering that this is the first time there has been a record of this high proportion of facility based deliveries.

On this point Kalilani said the Ministry of health is addressing these issues and related pressing concerns in the health system, the Ministry has embarked on a reform journey, and currently four reform areas have been prioritized for a sustainable and efficient health system.

She said the reforms areas are: “The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of health and CHAM. Establishing a Health fund, revitalizing health insurance schemes, and reforming operations of Central Hospitals and District Health Systems,” she explained.

On behalf of donor partners, Head of Cooperation at Norwegian Embassy Bjarne Garden, who spoke on behalf of Health donor group, expressed his concerns over the number of maternal deaths and said there is need to invest in resources and partnership on quality of care at facility level.

“The Ministry of health should make follow up visits to address the neonatal deaths, because not getting to the root cause of the maternal deaths will mean more deaths of mothers,” he said.

He said as donors, they want to see to it that Government continues to ensure that resources are used as intended.

“We want to see that health workers are receiving salaries and indeed show up at work so that leakage of drugs and other commodities are halted,” Garden said.


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