Latest participants to the Mother’s Fun Run Sleepover Challenge have described the experience as an ‘eye opener’ as regards challenges women are facing when accessing maternal health services at public hospitals..
Last Friday, it was the turn of 10 individuals from Lilongwe and Blantyre to sleepover at Ntcheu District Hospital where they had first-hand experience.
One of the participants, Stella Gama, who is Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources director of forestry, said going by her experience at the hospital, there is a lot that needs to be done to revitalise the health sector in the country.
“It’s no lie that what we have seen here at Ntcheu District Hospital is definitely happening in other public hospitals. What we need is to join hands as individuals and work together with the Ministry of Health because, for sure, government needs our support to end some of the challenges being faced,” she said.
According to Gama, apart from shortage of human resource, Ntcheu District Hospital is in need of medical equipment and space for women who seek maternal health services.
Upon welcoming the challengers, Ntcheu district health officer Mike Chisema said with an average of 18 deliveries per day, the hospital does not have adequate space to accommodate most post-natal patients.
“The maternity ward has 55 beds, but we have a lot of patients every day and the solution that lies now is for the patients to share the beds. So, we have two patients per bed,” he said.
“Another sad observation was that two of four toilets in the maternity ward, are not functioning,” chipped in one of the participants, Ndidza Chisanu.
Amid all challenges observed at the hospital, the participants commended the hospital’s staff for doing their best in bringing new lives to the world and saving lives of mothers.
“I must say the staff members are doing their best to ensure that women are safe despite not having adequate equipment. I understand this hospital also acts as a referral facility from the surrounding areas; hence many people come here for services, so there is a lot of pressure on the staff but they still manage to do their job,” said Martha Katete.
The only male participants among them, Ronald Chimchere, said time has come for men in the country to stop taking safe motherhood initiatives as for women only.
“There is need for a change of mindset, for people in the country to realise that this is a problem we must all tackle and not just leave it for the women just because they are the ones who go into labour,” he said.
On their part, sleepover challengers Lindiwe Chide and Jane Nthenda said the experience will help them give personal testimonies of the life-threatening challenges faced by mothers, babies and children at various stages of pregnancy, labour and delivery.
Since 2005, NPL has been implementing the MFR initiative which aims to improve safe motherhood in public hospitals across the country.
This year, Mother’s Fun Run, the initiative goes to Ntcheu and Likoma districts, seeking to raise about K300 million for improving safe motherhood facilities at the hospitals.
The other Sleepover challengers at were Driana Lwanda, Thembikile Chide, Eneles Chide and Cynthia Mangoche.