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Netball spearheads fight against maternal mortality


Moorosi Tsiane

Qacha’s Nek

‘Melikane LEC Primary School teacher Liopelo Manoeli has applauded the joint-effort between the Lesotho Netball Association (LNA) and UNICEF in fighting maternal mortality through sport in ‘Melikane and surrounding villages.

The two-day initiative started at ‘Melikane LEC on Wednesday with a workshop for 42 Village Health Workers and pregnant women. On the first day, the workshop taught the women how to exercise at the village clinic while on Day Two, ‘Melikane Combined Government School, Qhobosheaneng Primary and ‘Melikane LEC played a netball tournament.

Manoeli said she believed the programme would motivate pregnant women to start attending clinics for antenatal care to reduce the high rate of maternal deaths in their area.

“Since we are living in a remote area, it is very challenging to us, as teachers, to make people understand the importance of issues such as antenatal care. We are happy to get this kind of assistance which I believe will bring the much-needed difference in our area,” Manoeli said.

She added the biggest challenge was young girls who appeared more interested in getting married than going to school.

“It is very disturbing to see our children focusing their attention on things such as marriage, and initiation schools rather than formal education. So to pass around messages of how they can take care of themselves is not easy but with programmes like this, there is hope. There is a good gathering here so it becomes easy to pass the message and I hope we could have more of these programmes,” said Manoeli.

Addressing pregnant women, Village Health Workers and teachers, LNA president Moipone Mashale said the project was sponsored by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).

“We established that there is a high maternal death rate here, so we decided to come jointly with UNICEF to show you the importance of going to clinics once you learn about your situation and avoid giving birth at home as it is not safe,” Mashaile said.

“And because as a netball association we are also interested in seeing strong girl-children, we also included in our programme, these schools surrounding ‘Melikane to join in.

“We also encourage pregnant women to exercise to make it easy for them to give birth when their time arrives.”

On her part, UNICEF Health Officer ‘Mamorapeli Motaung said their priority was to see that children are taken care of and that begins before the child is born.

“As UNICEF, our priority is to see that we have healthy children and that begins before the child is born. That is why we decided to fund this programme to help pregnant women exercise through sport.

“We learnt last year that only a few women here give birth at the clinic and that is risky. Women have lost their lives during delivery so it is important for you to give birth here where trained professionals can take good care of you,” Motaung said.

“We are also negotiating with the Ministry of Home Affairs that after giving birth, your children get registered so that you leave the clinic with their birth certificates. We have learnt that some of you travel from faraway places to seek facilities so getting birth certificates for your children soon after birth would help you avoid traveling for the document once again.”

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