Healthy mothers make a healthy nation


During 2017, over 810 mothers used to die per day due to easily preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Of these mothers, around 94 percent were found to be in low and middle income countries while Ethiopia, Sub-Saharan countries and South Asian countries constitute over 86 percent. Sadly, mothers between the ages of 10-14 were the most vulnerable ones, said Netsanet Belete, Maternal Health Program Officer within the Ministry of Health (MoH).

According to World Health Organization (WHO), 462 per one thousands mothers die in developing countries while 11 per 100 thousand mothers die in developed nations. The figures indicate there is injustice, lack of quality and accessibility problems in health services.

Cognizant of this fact, the approved Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the WHO plans to make maternal mortality 70 per 100 thousand mothers in 2030. Similarly, it emphasized that no country should register twice the average of the international level of maternal mortality, she noted.

In Ethiopia, around 402 per 100 thousand mothers die during childbirth. To this effect, a plan is set to minimize maternal mortality to 279 by 2025, said Netsanet.

There are about three major causes of maternal mortality in Ethiopia; which are severe bleeding after childbirth, infection and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are also other factors that hinder most mothers from getting the medical service they need to get during pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal times. These factors are known to be the three delays, as to her.

The first delay is recognizing a problem and deciding to seek care. In this regard, the low status of women, poor understanding of complications and risk factors in pregnancy, unaware when to seek medical help coupled with previous poor experience of health care and financial implications are said to be the major problems.

As to Netsanet, distance to health centers and hospitals, cost of transportation, poor roads and infrastructure, conditions like geographical location such as mountainous terrain, rivers are said to be the second delay factors that poorly contribute to reaching a facility that provides an appropriate level of care.

Receiving adequate and appropriate care is the third delay. Poor facilities and lack of medical supplies inadequately trained and poorly motivated medical staff, insufficient referral systems, among others are mentioned as the other limitations, she added.

Safe maternity care means ensuring all women receive the care and necessary information they need to get to be safe and healthy throughout pregnancy to childbirth and even in postnatal. The safe motherhood campaign was first launched in Nairobi, Kenya during a health forum held in 1987. In Ethiopia, it is being celebrated for 16th time under the motto “Let us join hands to curb maternal mortality due to postpartum hemorrhage”.

According to her, the day is observed every year to reduce maternal mortality and making safe motherhood a priority at all levels through bridging the gap and addressing the decision making bodies regarding the health condition of mothers, creating awareness on society regarding safe motherhood, and making concerned bodies give emphasis about the matter.

Netsanet further noted that, women and children are part and parcel of the major vulnerable segment of the society when manmade and natural disaster occurs. Owing to the changes that comes along with pregnancy and postnatal conditions, situations that force women to have unintended pregnancy, lack of adequate health care service as well as failing to get timely medical children and maternal treatment, safe motherhood service should be one of the priority areas.

Understanding the deep impact that the current situation in Ethiopia, would put on these segments of the society, Ministry of Health (MoH) has carried out numerous activities in war affected areas. Of the exerted efforts, strengthening human resources in those areas was the one. As part of this effort, MoH recruited and sent over 2,161 health professionals, she added.

Moreover, efforts are also being employed to engage international and voluntary Diasporas to provide professional and material supports. Regarding the actions that were taken to enable war affected hospitals resume their services; the Ministry has undertaken various activities in linking up the affected hospitals with other hospitals to resume their service. In addition, she mentioned that repairing and supporting of ambulances was also carried out by the Ministry.

The Ministry is also providing all-embracing support to states in order to address basic healthcare service to displaced people as well as those who are residing in war affected areas.

Likewise, for the people who displaced from their living areas, temporary clinics are established; and in the same manner, for those segments who are unapproachable, mobile team that incorporated healthcare and nutrition professionals are organized to unable them get healthcare services.

With the aim of addressing gender based violence over 16 centers are organized and have provided medical and psychological support. With regard to financial, medicinal and material support, in partnership with sponsors, various supports worth over 2.71 billion Birr were made. Close to 72.5 million Birr worth emergency health related treatments were carried out, she added.

While talking about identified shortcomings, she said, lack of adequate awareness on mother’s healthcare services, inconsistency of using healthcare service, absence of medical equipment, lack of quality healthcare services, unorganized referral system, the outbreak of COVID-19 among other have challenged mother healthcare services.

As a result, she underlined that sensitizing the society, fulfilling and distributing basic medical equipment, involving sector institutions to provide mother’s healthcare service, providing quality healthcare service, as well as expanding institutions that gives emergency services are amongst the priority areas the Ministry is planning to realize in the coming years.



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