Pre-natal care for rural mothers at waiting homes
The push from the presidential residence for improved maternity care took another step forward when First Lady, Madame Penehupifo Pohamba on Wednesday inaugurated the new Maternity Waiting Home at Okongo in the Ohangwena Region.
Initiated by the First Lady who has long been a champion of maternity care, Maternity Waiting Homes bridge the geographical gap for women living far from health facilities. These homes allow them to access quality maternal and newborn care by bringing them closer to the clinic.
The new waiting home, named the Joshua Hanyango Maternity Waiting Home was opened by the First Lady and the three PARMaCM stakeholders, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The First Lady said, “the Maternity Waiting Home is a state-of-the-art building which accommodates up to 80 pregnant women coming from remote and rural areas where access to health services and transportation is difficult. Now the suffering and potential emergency situations that pregnant women may endure during the erection of their own make-shift tents and the long walk to the health facility will be ended.”
The Maternity Waiting Home is part of the Program for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM), a joint partnership between the ministry, the EU and World Health. The programme was launched in February 2013 with a total budget of Euro10 million for the period 2013 to 2017.
Dr Monir Islam, WHO Representative, and Mr Raul Fuentes Milani, EU Ambassador, both agreed that Maternity Waiting Homes are a necessity as “no woman should die giving birth or having given birth. We must protect the (future) mothers of Namibia”.
The Regional Council and Okongo constituency made the land available and will be managing the day-to-day operation of the facility.
Minister of Health, Hon Dr Richard Kamwi, cautioned that the care for pregnant women does not stop with the construction of a Maternity Waiting Home: “the ministry will provide health information and services for the pregnant women and their newborns to ensure that the women receive all the necessary antenatal care, and are properly monitored, so that any problems can be addressed at once, and they can be taken to the maternity wards in good time. Furthermore, the facility provides an ideal context for health extension work, so that once the babies are born, the mothers will better be able to ensure their continued healthy development”.
PARMaCM approaches maternal and infant health holistically, through integrated interventions. In addition to the provision of decent, safe accommodation for expecting mothers through Maternity Waiting Homes, it also provides training for health workers in antenatal and emergency obstetric care. The waiting homes are equipped with beds, mattresses and other necessities for expecting women.