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By: Julia Heita

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula says Namibia plans to end preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035.

Shangula said this during the launch of the National Guideline: Antenatal Care for a Positive Pregnancy Experience and Maternal Record in Windhoek on Monday.

“With less than a decade left to achieve the SDGs targets, accelerated actions must be taken to achieve the national and global targets articulated for maternal, newborn and child health,” he said.

Shangula said reducing maternal and neonatal mortality is an essential component of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.

The minister SDG 3 calls for commitment to reducing the global maternal mortality rate to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030.

No country has a maternal mortality rate of more than twice the global average.

“Maternal and prenatal death rates remain a major challenge in Namibia.”

He said quality and effective ANC reduces complications from pregnancy and delivery, reduces stillbirths and prenatal deaths, and offers an opportunity for integrated care during pregnancy.

Shangula said Namibia has been implementing Focused Antenatal Care (FANC) since 2014. However, the FANC model with four ANC visited increased prenatal mortality and was associated with poor satisfaction of pregnant women and is no longer recommended.

“Antenatal care provides an opportunity for the health provider to establish partnerships with pregnant women and their families that will endure beyond the pregnancy,” he said.

He explained that the provision of quality antenatal care also facilitates the education of women and their families to make informed choices about their care, promote healthy pregnancies and support women and families to prepare for childbirth and maintenance of the newborn.

“Quality antenatal care is therefore fundamental in reducing maternal and newborn mortality and achieving the health-related SDG targets.”

Shangula said the Ministry has made maternal death a notifiable medical condition and has institutionalized Maternal, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Reviews (MSNDR) by creating National, Regional, District and Health Facility Maternal, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Review Committees.

“The overall goal is to eliminate preventable maternal deaths and near misses, stillbirths and neonatal deaths through quality improvement strategies derived from the identification and analysis of circumstances around these deaths and near misses.”

During the launch, World Health Organisations country representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, said the issue of maternal mortality, stillbirths and newborn deaths is an unfinished agenda due to the high global burden of preventable deaths of women and babies.

“Although important progress has been made in the last two decades, globally nearly 300,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes each year which translates to 810 women dying every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth,” he said.

Sagoe-Moses said WHO supported the development of the new ANC Training Package, used recently for the first round national Training of Trainers (TOT training).

According to the UN estimate, the maternal mortality in Namibia is 195/100,000 live births. We have to accelerate our efforts to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.1 target of reducing it to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.

Julia Heita

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