President Joyce Banda’s commitment towards the promotion of safe motherhood initiative to protect pregnant women and maternal health in the country is evidently facing serious hitches.
Since taking over office last April, President Banda has reaffirmed her administration’s commitment towards ensuring that most health facilities have maternity clinics to promote maternal health.
But health service delivery to some communities across the country is being seriously affected.
One such example is a shocking revelation of Katimbira Health Centre in the area of Senior Chief Kanyenda in Nkhotakota district which has for some months now been delivering its services without water, toilets and bathroom.
And time is fast ticking for the facility, which has a maternity wing, before it turns into a source of contracting various diseases.The most affected are pregnant women who go to deliver at the heath center, according to members of the community.
Reports show that the only borehole at the centre stopped working almost a year ago while the toilets have not been functioning for the last six months.
This lack of sanitary facilities has resulted in most pregnant women shunning the facility or seeking medical help when labour is on the climax or at night after noticing some complication signs.
“The development is forcing most pregnant women to shun the facility altogether or else seek medical attention during evening hours which is bad as they put their lives at risk,” one concerned community member said.
She further observed that the availability of proper maternity services and proper infrastructure form a significant package that motivate women to seek assistance from skilled attendants at health centers in good time.
Another community member, Kingsco Zimba of Matiwamba Village noted that lack of the said facilities result in infringement of their privacy when they want to respond to call of nature.
“Some people have been shunning the health centre because they want to safeguard their privacy,” he said.
Moreen Kapatuka, whose house is situated some few metres away from the centre, said most patients flock to her house to use her single toilet.
“We do offer the toilet out of generosity but it is a challenge to the family to be scrambling for a single toilet with the patients,” she said.
While confirming the development, Nkhotakota District Health Officer, Dr Wanangwa Chisenga said the problem had only been around for three months and not a year as claimed by the community members.
He, however, hinted that the problem could only be sorted out if the borehole is repaired and new sanitary facilities constructed.
“At the meantime, we have employed casual labourers to be fetching water from a certain borehole as immediate solution to the challenge,” he said.
He added that the situation was also a burden to the members of staff as sometimes they are forced to abandon work and patients in order to fetch water thereby jeopardising health service delivery.
“We are equally concerned but our office is committed to coming up with a long-term solution,” Chisenga said.
Nkhotakota District Social Economic Profile of 2010-2013 indicates that Katimbira Health Centre’s catchment population is 11, 033.
And according to Malawi 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, the maternal mortality rate in the country has dwindled from 984 per 100,000 live births in 2004 to 675 per 100,000 live births in 2010.–(Additional reporting by Malawi News Agency)
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