Sensitization on Maternal Health in Rural Areas — An Emergency*

A Lusaka-based nurse has called on the government to engage relevant stakeholders in the fight against maternal deaths in rural areas in Zambia.

Mrs. Florence Lupiya, the Head of Nursing at Texila American University, says in order to increase maternal health sensitization in rural areas, the government should partner with various Non-Governmental Organizations to ensure mass sensitization. Mrs Lupiya bemoaned recent reports of expectant mothers in some rural areas opting for herbal medicines instead of clinical services. Mrs Lupiya says there is a need to raise awareness on seeking medical attention for pregnant women in all parts of the country, especially those in the outskirts of town.

She has commended the government’s effort in erecting health-care facilities in many parts of the country.

She however says there is a need to ensure the intended beneficiaries of the hospitals and clinics are aware of the benefits of health centers.

Mrs Lupiya says that pregnant women, in many instances, experience complications that require professional attention. She outlined major complications such as severe bleeding and infections, usually after childbirth, high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), complications from delivery, and unsafe abortion.

She says that all those can be avoided or managed if trained health-care professionals are involved in the process of pregnancy. She has therefore called for relevant stakeholders to step up in raising awareness, as it is not the task of government alone. She added that mindset change is a huge task that requires a concerted effort.

Mrs Lupiya has further called on the government to prioritize partnerships with relevant stakeholders to effectively mobilize the required resources. She says that maternal health has seen great strides in the recent past, but there is still much work to be done, especially in rural areas.

She has called for enhanced awareness and action on maternal and newborn and child health interventions, such as all-round political will, provision of guidance and coordination for universal coverage levels, providing an enabling environment for policy dialogue, monitoring and evaluating progress, conducting and building research capacity in outskirt regions and districts, among other interventions.

Mrs Lupiya was speaking in an interview at Texila American University’s main campus in Lusaka. She was speaking in response to recent media reports that Zambia’s Ministry of Health was struggling to reduce maternal deaths in the Lundazi district because of some cultural practices by the local people. Some expectant mothers are reported to prefer delivering at home where they easily access herbs they believe help them give birth quickly and without experiencing pain.