NGO launches community by-laws on safe motherhood, PMTCT

Life Concern- a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), based in the Northern Region district of Rumphi, has facilitated the formation of by-laws in the district aimed at enhancing male involvement in safe motherhood and prevention of mother to child HIV transmission activities.

The by-laws are for people from within the area of Senior Chief Mwankhunikira and they were officially launched last weekend at Mzokoto Health Centre in the district.

Life Concern Executive Director, Peter Gondwe, said the by-laws were a continuation of the ‘Bring your wife PMTCT campaign’ the organisation had been implementing in the area of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe in the same district.

The campaign recorded a total of 675 men who were involved in escorting their wives to ante-natal clinic, underwent couple HIV testing and ensured that their wives delivered at an established health facility.

Senior Chief Mwankhunikira delivering his official opening speech
Senior Chief Mwankhunikira delivering his official opening speech

But Gondwe said despite the success registered through the Bring your wife PMTCT campaign, his organisation noted that many men chided the couple HIV testing thereby putting the lives of the unborn babies at risk of contracting HIV, a virus that causes AIDS.

“The organisation, therefore, engaged chiefs and village development committees (VDC), ministry of health and the district council officials to come up with community PMTCT by-laws that would make male involvement in safe motherhood activities mandatory,” explained Gondwe.

He hoped with the by-laws every pregnant woman would be escorted to a health facility for ante-natal services by her husband, deliver at a health facility thereby reducing cases of women dying during labour.

The formation of the by-laws were financially supported by Egmont Trust UK which also enabled the organisation to facilitate a training of women peer educators, male promoters and establishment of women study circle groups on safe motherhood and PMTCT.

In his remarks, Senior Chief Mwankhunikira hailed the initiative which he said would drastically reduce cases of maternal and neonatal deaths in his area thereby contributing to safe motherhood in the country.

He warned traditional birth attendants against helping women to deliver in their respective communities stressing serious penalties would be meted on them if found.

The chief who is also a member of the Presidential Committee on Safe Motherhood challenged his subjects to ensure they adhere to the by-laws.

One of the by-laws reads in part: “…If a traditional birth attendant is found helping a woman deliver in the community he/she has to pay a goat or a fine of K20, 000.”

According to statistics sourced at Rumphi District Hospital, last year the hospital registered eight maternal deaths out of 7 263 lives births.

Some of the chiefs who attended the launch- Pic courtesy of Life Concern.
Some of the chiefs who attended the launch- Pic courtesy of Life Concern.

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