In Namibia six babies die every day and every fifth day a mother dies due to pregnancy-related complications, latest statistics show. This was revealed by the head of department for obstetrics and gynaecology for Katutura and Windhoek Central hospitals, Dr Shonag Mackenzie, who said these statistics, are from a 2016 report that would soon be made public. She spoke at the International Day of the Midwife celebration held on Saturday. Mackenzie revealed that between 2012 and 2015, 5 484 babies died in the country. She broke down the figures by indicating that 1 154 cases were fresh stillbirths, 2015 were marcerated (a term used to describe autolytic changes which occur when the foetus remains in utero after its demise) stillbirths, while 2 315 were neonatal deaths. “Most deaths were avoidable,” Mackenzie told midwives, who reacted with shock to the statistics. Dr Leonard Kabongo, who is in charge of Gobabis State Hospital, explained that haemorrhage (bleeding), hypertension and sepsis (infection) are some of the causes of maternal deaths in Namibia. Some of these are a result of unsafe abortions. Mackenzie said the alarming statistics present a unique opportunity to make a difference. “We can introduce change very well.” She said in Namibia there is a difference in care depending on whether a patient has medical aid or not. Even at Windhoek Central Hospital, where some private patients opt to deliver their babies, this difference in care can be observed as some things are reserved just for private patients, even if they are not necessarily paying for them. “Culturally, private is better. But there should be no reason why women shouldn’t have access to care in state (hospitals). We (state health practitioners) have to be doing the best.” She further explained that the most dangerous time to be in hospital is a hand over time because that is when people do not account for their patients. She further said that some deaths were as a result of Caesarean sections but not all of them. She added that some doctors, especially those in private practice, often recommend to women that they go for a Caesarean, even if that is not necessarily the best option.

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