Health experts have advised pregnant women to ensure that they are first in line to get Covid-19 vaccine once it arrives in the country.
In an interview, Ministry of Health Reproductive Health Directorate gender programme officer Rosemary Bilesi said it is safe to have pregnant mothers vaccinated so that they are protected from Covid-19.
She said: “Many pregnant women were shunning the vaccine when it was available for fear of negative effects on their pregnancies. This, they did because when the vaccines started being administered, pregnant women were advised not to take them.”
Bilesi sentiments follow a study Ministry of Health with technical support from Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLWT) is conducting which has shown a direct impact of Covid-19 on the maternal outcomes in the country.
The study is being conducted through Maternal Surveillance system—an electronic data collection system that is linked to the Maternal Death and Surveillance Response Program me (MDSR)—which ensures that every maternal death is recorded.
It also seeks to learn lessons from these deaths to prevent the events recurring.
MLWT maternal health project manager Bertha Maseko and the trust’s senior research nurse Regina Makuluni observed that the disruption of normal services by the Covid-19 pandemic was envisaged to have a major impact on the ability to deliver comprehensive and safe maternal and neonatal care.
She said the second wave of the Covid-19 saw an increase in maternal deaths from January – April 2021.
Said Maseko: “Out of the confirmed Covid-19 cases, about 20 percent of women with Covid-19 who needed to be treated in hospitals died, and a further 15 percent were unwell enough to nearly die, but fortunately they survived.”
Through fact-checking agency Viral Facts Africa, World Health Organisation Africa Region’s vaccines officer Dr. Phionah Atuhebwe recently said Covid-19 vaccines do not contain any ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or an unborn baby.