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Avoidable maternal deaths on the rise, MOH report reveals


Limpho Sello

AT LEAST 116 of the 215 maternal deaths recorded in Lesotho could have been avoided, the Maternal Death Review Report of 2011 to 2015 has revealed.

These deaths were due to obstetric emergencies like severe bleeding and amniotic fluid as well as hypertension.

The report notes, “the highest number of maternal deaths occurred in Maseru where 102 women lost their lives as a result of complications of delivery or inadequate care during pregnancy.

“Additional alarming figures come from Leribe and Berea with 25 and 19 lives lost respectively.  The report further shows that women between the age of 24 and 34 were the most at risk of dying as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.”

The Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Manager in the Ministry of Health Motsoanku ‘Mefane said that suboptimal care was among the factors that contributed to maternal deaths whereas if the majority of the cases (60,5 percent) had had appropriate management, they would have survived.

“The avoidable factors associated with deaths were as high as 116 cases compared to unavoidable factors of 87. Most deaths (33.3 percent) occurred during the postpartum period, making it the most critical time for women who want to become mothers,” said Ms ‘Mefane.

The report further indicates that women between the age of 24 and 34 were the most at risk of dying as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.  Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital had the highest number of cases.

These deaths resulted from hypertension complications others resulted from late transfer from district health facilities to referral hospitals.

“Women who were pregnant for the first time aged 20 to 24 years had a greatest risk of dying with a total of 56 deaths recorded in the particular age group,” notes the report.

The report further reveals that the majority of women who died had fully attended antenatal care (ANC) and were under the impression that they could safely deliver their baby.

At a media training on SRH in Berea last week Ms ‘Mefane said there is a need for the government to intervene in ensuring that pregnant women access maternal services free of charge.

“The amounts charged at hospitals discourages women from seeking medical attention, therefore free services at all levels are necessary,” said Ms ‘Mefane.

Ms ‘Mefane added that in a bid to curb avoidable deaths, SRH intends to conduct trainings for midwives and doctors on life saving measures.

“We need to strengthen the emergency care services. We have also invested in the transportation of mothers and pregnant women who would have been referred to hospitals under emergency circumstances. This will go a long way in reducing avoidable maternal deaths,” Ms ‘Mefane said.

Under Maternal Health and the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission Ms ‘Mefane said that there is a need to strengthen early post-natal care. She emphasized that an hour after birth the nurses must have be vigilant because it is a crucial period.

The training in Berea was hosted by the Ministry of Health Family through the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.


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