Minister of Health (MoH) Peter Kumpalume on Wednesday launched a K1.3 billion (about $1.7million) maternal and neonatal health project which seeks to improve the health of 27 000 women and their babies in Karonga District.
The project, being implemented by the Foundation for Community Support Services (Focus), in partnership with MoH and the Adventist Health Services (AHS), is coming at a time Karonga District Hospital loses a woman due to pregnancy complications monthly.
Kumpalume said the project, which has already bought an ambulance to support maternal issues, “will help in improving maternal health to where no woman dies during delivery”.
“Government wants every person to be healthy and to be near a hospital which has adequate staff, medicine and shelter. But the challenge is that government has limited resources. We usually depend on such funding,” he said.
The three-year project, funded by Christian Aid, has rolled out in all the district’s 19 health facilities where it seeks to provide equipment and infrastructure and raise awareness in dealing with social behaviours that limit women from accessing healthcare.
Karonga district health officer Charles Sungani said lack of adequate infrastructure, long distances to clinics and social norms have led to high cases of maternal complications and deaths of pregnant women in the district.
“For the past six months, six pregnant women lost their lives. And for the year 2014, we recorded 13 deaths of pregnant women. Most of these cases were because women came late for labour as women in rural areas travel up to 60 kilometres to a clinic. The reason is that most of our clinics are along the main road, so areas away from the road are deprived health services,” he said. n