Presidential adviser on safe motherhood Dorothy Ngoma says misconceptions about Covid-19 vaccine are making expectant women avoid delivering their babies in health facilities.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lilongwe on Thursday, she the negative misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccine has led many pregnant women to deliver their babies at home, putting their life and that of the baby at risk.
Ngoma said she recently visited district hospitals such as Mangochi, Machinga, Mchinji, Balaka and Ntcheu to appreciate how they are faring in terms of safe motherhood.
She said: “Health workers are working hard to push the maternal and neonatal deaths down to zero; but some districts are not doing so well. The hospital spaces in maternity wings are deserted because there is a lot of negative information going around regarding Covid-19.
“It is worrisome to note that people are even linking the tetanus and other vaccines for pregnant women to the Covid-19 vaccine and are shunning the hospitals because they think that people are being given Covid-19 vaccine against their will.”
The safe motherhood adviser said such conduct is retrogressive to the country’s efforts of meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Three of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100 000 live births.
Ngoma pointed out that the government is committed to the health of women and children in the country—ensuring that their rights to health are protected.
On his part, Lilongwe District Health Office (DHO) senior medical officer Dr Thokozani Liwewe said fewer women are presenting in hospitals than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said: “Lilongwe DHO has not been spared. Most women are not presenting to the hospital on time even if they have some complications. But a hospital is a safe place, women and people in general need to know that.”
Malawi’s MMR is at 439 per 100 000 live births, one of the highest globally, with adolescent births comprising 15 percent of that. Neonatal deaths, often caused by birth asphyxia, premature birth and infection, is estimated at 29 per 1 000 live births.