HEALTH minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says all pregnancies should be captured early and registered at the nearest health facility using a multi-sectoral approach.
Commemorating safe motherhood week that began on Sunday and ends on Friday under the theme “Universal Access To Sexual Reproductive Services, Leaving No-one Behind!”, Dr Chilufya said the government has put in place critical interventions for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity.
Zambia has a notoriously high maternal mortality standing at 398 per 100,000 as of the demographic survey of 2014.
He said the government had made a clear statement of intent to reduce this mortality to less than 100 per 100,000 between the period 2017 and 2021; and eventually to eliminate preventable maternal deaths by 2030.
“The importance of this week, therefore, is that we are declaring an end to this legacy. During the safe motherhood week, there will be heightened activities to promote safe motherhood; antenatal and postnatal care services, screening for cervical cancer, treatment for obstetric fistula, services such as family planning under adolescent and sexual reproductive services and sensitization on gender-based violence. All community radio stations in all the districts will carry various sensitization programmes to that effect,” Dr Chilufya posted on his Facebook page.
“The call to action during this special week seeks the help of traditional leaders, members of the clergy, all communities, neighbourhood health committees and safe motherhood action groups [SMAGS] to sensitise their communities on the need to notify pregnancy early. All pregnancies should be captured early and registered at the nearest health facility using a multi-sectoral approach. Pregnancies that are captured early lead to early vulnerability and risk assessment, enabling us to put in plans to prevent bad outcomes. All pregnant women will, therefore, be attached to a midwife. Vulnerability assessment will further help us attach pregnant women who are vulnerable to the social cash transfer programme to promote the First One Thousand Days Most Critical Days. Nutrition is closely linked to the social cash transfer. “
He said the government attaches great importance to safe motherhood and this year, the climax of the safe motherhood week will be in Lundazi led by first lady Esther Lungu.
He said the political will was further entrenched through the declaration in the National Strategic Plan that no mother should die while giving birth through the declaration in the health campaign for accelerated maternal mortality reduction in Zambia through the reengineered approach introducing various community based programmes that sensitise women to book early for antenatal and be assessed for vulnerability.
Dr Chilufya said human capital development programmes have, consequently, been intensified via the introduction of public health nursing and midwifery training programmes to ensure that there are enough skilled hands in our communities to handle pregnancies.
He said the government had put in place critical interventions for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity.
“… we are breaking a wide range of barriers [economic, legal, social, and cultural] that women face in accessing high quality maternal health care. Our ultimate goal is to offer universal access to sexual reproductive services, leaving no-one behind,” said Dr Chilufya who also recognised the various cooperating partners that have assisted the government through the Ministry of Health in combating maternal mortality and enhancing safe motherhood.