Traditional Authority (TIA) Mkumpha of Likoma district has asked various organisations and individuals to come to the rescue of the women in the district as they are facing numerous maternal health challenges.
Responding to a questionnaire, Mkumpha said there is need for a waiting maternity ward for expectant mothers at the Anglican Church-run St Peter’s Health Centre, which is the only reliable health facility on the island.
“I would be glad if a waiting room can be built for women to deliver in good time. Due to transport challenges, most women find it had to go to the hospital when delivery time is due.
“We believe if there were a waiting room at the hospital, maternal deaths would decrease, which is what government is trying to achieve in promoting safe motherhood,” he said.
With no district hospital on the island, based on the 2018 Population and Housing Census, the church-run health centre serves a population of 14 527. Mkumpha added that most development work in the area is put to a standstill when family members are attending to an expectant woman. “For the nation to develop, we
need people who are energetic. If a woman has not been treated at the right time, there are a lot of complications, which keep her and other family members away from development work,” he added. Likoma district health officer
David Sibale said the main challenge haunting the maternity facility is space, as sometimes, waiting mothers, those that have just delivered and others on Kangaroo, are congested in a single room.
Due to its geographical position, referral cases to Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay have to use boat transport, which is not cheap, as it costs between K350 000 and K450 000 for a private boat, since there is no functional boat
ambulance. StPeter’s Health Centre serves as a referral for Chizumulu and other nearby areas from Mozambique and it registers between 40 and 50 deliveries every month while Chizumulu Health Centre registers between 10 and 16 deliveries a month.
In its continued bid to improve safe motherhood in the country, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) will, this year, take its yearly Mother’s Fun Run (MFR) initiative, which seeks to raise K300 million, to Likoma and Ntcheu main hospitals and their satellite centres.
For the women who have suffered and are still suffering the harsh conditions in the two districts, the coming in of MFR to their aid will, to some extent, lessen some of their challenges.
On June 29, 11 women from Lilongwe and Blantyre witnessed the pains and agonies mothers of Likoma succumb to.
The women included Reverend Towera Masiku of World Alive Ministries International; Tiwonge Nyirenda, an instructor in electrical installations and electronics at Don Bosco Youth Technical Institute; Grace Mwanza the church administrator for Church of Central Africa Presbyterian’s
St Michael and All Angels in Blantyre, Maria Bauleni, Zione Yapu, Laika Mlozi, Alinafe Mphonde, Josephine Masano, Phylace Nyirenda, Florence Kamfose And Wongani Kaunda from Standard Bank in Lilongwe.
The sight of an incubator, which has been down for almost 25 years now, made the Sleepover Challenge participants to shed tears as it means some neonatal deaths could have been prevented had the machine been working.
“Our lacking of an incubator risks a lot of premature born babies as despite relying on the kangaroo mother care, there are times when an incubator is the only choice and we end up losing babies,” said Sibale.
NPL marketing manager Albert Banda said the Sleepover Challenge is one way of letting people know the tough situations hospitals benefitting in the next MFR are facing and it gives room for other women to experience what their fellow women are experiencing.
He, however, said by joining hands with companies and organisations, they can improve the environment in which people access health care. St Peter’s Health Centre lacks items such as ultra- sound machines, oxygen concentrators, theatre equipment and sterilisers, which have made it hard for Likoma women to have a decent treatment at the hospital.
Since 2005, NPL has
been implementing the MFR initiative, which aims at improving safe
in public hospitals across the country.