By Johannes Hangula
LAST week marked the end of a four-year programme for accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM) in Namibia; a partnership between then Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), European Union and World Health Organisation.
Launched in 2013, PARMaCM was aimed to reverse the increasing trend of maternal and child mortality in the country.
Before the N$150 million PARMaCM was initiated there was concern about the limited number of health facilities providing emergency obstetric care, or those dealing with high teenage pregnancy rates and the high rates of HIV leading to maternal and newborn deaths in Namibia. There were also a number of questions that prevailed as to why the trends in the maternal and child mortality did not show significant improvement despite high coverage of health services at the facilities.
WHO, with other partners then supported MoHSS in designing PARMaCM to address the prevailing concerns and respond to this predicament.
The programme was focusing on improving emergency obstetric care by addressing issues resulting in maternal and newborn deaths. The first was addressed by the strengthening community level engagement, and this was done through the training and mobilisation of community health workers. The second was addressed by the provision of ambulances to help with the transportation of women, as well as the construction of maternity waiting homes for women who lived far from the hospitals to come closer to the facilities to access services at the time of need. The third matter was addressed through the provision of medical equipment for maternal and child care, training mentoring and supervision of health care providers.
Another area of focus was improving child survival through support for the expanded programme on immunisation, the integrated management of newborn and child illness, infant and child feeding programmes and the conduct of maternal and child health weeks.
The programme’s efforts were directed to the rural and poorest population which had both the highest maternal and child mortality rates and the least access to quality services. The six priority districts were Outapi, Gobabis, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Okongo, Opuwo and the three referral hospitals were Rundu, Oshakati and Onandjokwe.
Speaking at the closure ceremony of the programme in Windhoek last Friday, WHO Dr Desta Tiruneh said PARMaCM has strengthened the Namibian health system by proving support from the community to the tertiary referral facilities.
“Tremendous efforts were made to build capacity of doctors, nurses/midwives in various maternal, newborn and child health care facilities. On-the-job trainings, supportive supervision and programme reviews including the second national Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care assessment was done to inform reproductive maternal newborn and child health programming. Approximately 80 percent of the resources provided were utilised to achieve these results.
“Through PARMaCM the pre-service training institutions were capacitated and 12 training sites were established around the country to ensure continued pre and in-service training. There were also strengthening of management capacity in the focus regions,” he said.
MoHSS permanent secretary Dr Andreas Mwoombola elaborated on some of the contributions made by PARMaCM to health delivery in the country. “Over N$30 million worth of medical equipment were procured and distributed to hospitals, health centres and clinics to upgrade maternal and child care services. This equipment includes anaesthetic machines, patient monitors, ultrasound machines, ventilators, incubators and delivery sets.
“Other achievements included constructing and furnishing three maternity waiting homes in Katima, Okongo and Gobabis, provision of ambulances and utility vehicles donated to the PARMaCM focus districts of Katima Mulilo, Okongo, Outapi, Opuwo, Gobabis and Keetmanshoop. In line with the set objectives, the PARMaCM programme also contributed greatly to strengthening the capacity of the health and nutrition and improved management. As a ministry we will continue to work hard to make sure that the contributions and achievement made by this programme are sustained and result in positive health outcomes for the people of Namibia”.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015