Government concerned about maternal, neonatal deaths: Shangula

Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, has expressed concern over the increased maternal deaths, stillbirths and neonatal deaths in Namibia. The minister was speaking on Thursday during the opening of the National Seminar on Neonatal Care in Swakopmund. The one-day seminar provides an opportunity for experts and practitioners in the field of pediatrics and neonatology to exchange ideas and collaborate on innovative solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of newborn children in the country. The 2022 Report into Maternal Deaths, Stillbirths and Neonatal deaths for April 2018 to March 2021, which was commissioned by the Health Ministry, reveals amongst others that a total of 145 maternal deaths were reported to the ministry, while a total of 1 066 stillbirths and 1 069 neonatal deaths were reported. Additionally, 4 406 stillbirths and 2 572 neonatal deaths were captured through the ministry's Health Information System. According to Shangula, evidence shows that in every pregnanc y there is a potential risk of complications and it is not always possible to determine which pregnant woman will develop complications. 'Hence, skilled assistance before and during labour, delivery and the postpartum period is critical towards the reduction of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. It is for this reason that the government has crafted the plan titled Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) in order to address and reduce neonatal and maternal deaths,' the minister outlined. ENAP, which has specific targets and objectives to reduce maternal mortality, aims to reduce maternal deaths from 385 to at least 200 per 100 000 live births by 2018 and to 50 by 2035. Shangula said that while progress has been made, these targets have not been fully met and more needs to be done if Namibia is to reach these targets by 2050. The Health Director in the Erongo Region, Anna Jonas, said the provision of neonatal care can be complex, especially if healthcare workers are not equipped with proper knowledge a nd skills on how to take care of the babies, as well as the ability to provide individualised care. Source: The Namibian Press Agency