Expectant mothers around Nsiyaludzu Health Centre in Ntcheu are opting to deliver at home or walk long distances to Ntcheu District Hospital to deliver in a better environment.
The development comes as a reaction to numerous problems that the health centre is facing, which women see as hazards to their newborns.
The facility’s in-charge Douglas Muriya confirmed the situation to Nation On Sunday on Friday night when Nation Pulications Limited (NPL) Mother’s Fun Run took one of its sleepover challengers, Madalitso Mkata, to the facility.
“It’s true mothers are shunning the facility, largely because of overcrowding in the postnatal ward where newborns with their mothers are not separated from guardians, and even their luggage.
“This situation is very bad for the newborns. Secondly, we don’t have a reliable water source back-up. We rely on the supply from Mpira Dam, which caters for a huge population and doesn’t take time to dry.
“When that happens, the only source our mothers are left with is a borehole at Nsiyaludzu Primary School, about 500 metres from the facility,” said Muriya.
A visit to Nsiyaludzu Health Centre revealed that the only guardian shelter and kitchen at the facility was blown off by wind in 2017, a development which forced guardians to relocate to the postnatal ward with their luggage.
Mkata’s further inquiries from expectant mothers and maternity wing in-charge Esmie Rashid revealed more challenges.
Rashid said the facility does not have an incinerator, thereby making it difficult to dispose of medical waste.
She said protective clothing for the medical personnel is not enough and that, hospital personnel sleep at home due to lack of space for night duty nurse.
“That is not all, we also have insufficient bed space in the delivery room, with only two beds against an average of 10 births per week when things were still fine,” she said.
Their concerns were proved because the Nation team and Mkata found only one expectant mother and a guardian awaiting delivery in the postnatal ward while there were scores of expectant mothers and guardians at the district hospital.
Rashid further said the facility previously used to have a minimum of 40 deliveries a month but after problems piled, it delivers a maximum of 25 babies in a month.
Mkata, a nurse/midwife by profession, said, it is difficult, under the conditions of the facility, for an expectant mother to risk her life and that of her unborn child.
“I have worked as a nurse/midwife in several facilities before I joined Management Sciences for Health and I know what happens in the labour ward. There is need to create an environment that gives hope to the mother and makes it easier for the attendant,” she said.
Commenting on the discoveries and testimonies, NPL’s Mother’s Fun Run coordinator Albert Banda said it gives sense to the initiative’s idea of organising sleepovers to get real issues.
“If we didn’t come here, we wouldn’t have known all these and in the end, we would bring things that are not necessary at all. But now we know what to bring for a relief,” said Banda.
Ntcheu and Likoma district hospitals, and their satellite centres, are the 2019 Mother’s Fun Run beneficiaries as NPL upgrades the initiative to benefit two districts per year.
NPL will be holding the event for a 15th consecutive year, in which it identifies districts in most need of health sector support and mobilise resources from partners to render the needed support to improve safe motherhood.