Home births decline in Bulilima
HOME births in Bulilima District in Matabeleland South have declined over the past years, a development that is likely to bring down the county’s high maternal mortality rate.
Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate stands at 525 deaths per 100,000 live births, according the 2012 census data. The United Nations considers a maternal mortality ratio of less than 100 as low, between 100 and 299 as moderately low, and high when it is 300 to 499.
Speaking during a media tour organised by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Save the Children and Community Working Group on Health, the sister-in-charge of Sikhathini Clinic Selulekile Dungeni attributed the decline to community involvement in raising awareness about the dangers of home deliveries.
“Sikhathini Clinic caters for more than 6 villages and some villagers still walk up to 14 kilometres to access medical attention.
“However, we’re happy because the communities have worked hard to spread health messages which saw our home deliveries drop from 12 in 2013 when the programme started to four since the beginning of 2016,” said Dungeni.
“The Health Centre Committee (HCC) sponsored by CWGH and Save the Children actively worked towards building a waiting mothers’ shelter and securing water and electricity for pregnant women which has motivated them to come and deliver at the clinic.”
She said the awareness project had also increased the number of men who accompany their pregnant partners for antenatal care.
Andrew Ngwenya, a member of the HCC said they had mobilised villagers who now appreciate the importance of seeking medical attention while pregnant.
He said certain cultural and religious beliefs were a stumbling block to accessing health care in some communities.
Siphilisiwe Tshongwe from Bezu Clinic in Bulilima, Plumtree District about 30km from Sikhathini, said they had recorded zero home births from January 16 and only two last year.
“We used to lose many lives during home births before the HCC came into existence in 2013 as we had no waiting home shelters or community-based awareness programmes,” she said.
She said it was important for pregnant women to deliver at health institutions with the aid of qualified personnel to avoid complications that could cause maternal deaths.
The World Health Organisation defines maternal mortality as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy.