President Joyce Banda on Wednesday laid a foundation stone for Maternity Waiting Home and launched the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood in Mulanje with a resolve to gallantly fight against the alarming maternal deaths in Malawi.
Speaking at Mulanje Park Ground after laying the foundation stone at Mulanje District Hospital, President Banda noted many expectant women die in Malawi because of poor and inadequate antenatal services and facilities.
“Issues of maternal health and safe motherhood are closest to my heart because I am a mother and a leader,” said Banda.
“ I will not stop advocating for safe delivery of babies where the life of a mother is not in danger. I nearly died when I was delivering one of my daughters if it were not for quick intervention by Dr. (John) Chimphangwi who was a close friend of my husband,” said the President.
The Head of State said she feels ashamed to learn that Malawi has the second highest maternal deaths rate after Sierra Leone as if the country has ever been at war.
She said her People’s Party government shall formulate health policies that ensure the safety of pregnant women and that this is why she undertook to establish a secretariat within her office to oversee and implement policies to deal with the dangers that pregnant mothers undergo when giving birth.
“Mothers should not lose life in the process of giving life,” Banda said.
She then appealed men to love and support their wives when they are pregnant, saying husbands should not compromise the realization of the gift of a child by neglecting their pregnant wives.
Banda also disclosed that more Maternity Waiting Homes would be constructed across the country and that under the presidential initiative, 50 nurses and midwives would be trained to reduce the ratio between pregnant mothers and health personnel.
“I am aware that currently, fewer nurses and midwives attend to pregnant women and this contributes to the high maternal deaths. We will work diligently towards reversing the trend to save lives of pregnant women,” she said.
The President also advised parents to keep the girl child in school, saying she was appalled to discover that most of the pregnant women at Mulanje District Hospital were teenagers.
“Pregnant women who are under-aged are at a higher risk of dying from pregnancy related complications than those who are matured,” she noted.
Standard Bank funded the construction of the Maternity Waiting Home in Mulanje. President Banda expressed appreciation to the bank, saying only health people would be economically active and save their money with the bank.
Speaking earlier, Board Chairman of Standard Bank, Alex Chitsime pledged to support the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood.
He said the bank would fund more Maternity Waiting Homes across the country and support related initiatives as their corporate social responsibility.
Vice President Khumbo Kachali noted that Banda “is the President of the nation” as demonstrated by the choice of Mulanje as district where the Presidential Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood should be launched.
“She could have chosen to launch it in Mzimba where I come from; she could have chosen to pilot it in Zomba where she comes from,” said Kachali, who is also Health Minister.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :