The Maternal Health Awareness Day is commemorated on January 23rd to help people learn about the contribution they can make in handling the challenges faced in maternal health. Maternal health is an issue so important that it is re-echoed whenever the opportunity presents itself, and there is no better occasion for re-commissioning ourselves to the cause that is improving maternal health like in the month of March when we also commemorate Women’s day.
By definition, maternal health refers to the health of women before and during pregnancy, at childbirth and during the postpartum period, so as a concept; it requires a multi-disciplinary approach whose end is a positive experience that emphasizes that women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being.
The world still grapples with significant problems that stand in the way of achieving the desired goal. The figures are still damning, although progress has been made in the last two decades with governments re-commissioning their priorities towards maternal health to achieve set goals as guided by the World health organization. The W.H.O figures show that 295000 women died during and following pregnancy and child birth in 2017. In many Sub-Saharan Africa countries including Uganda, the figures don’t look good and it is estimated that there are 505 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, an unacceptably high number that should be cause for alarm. But presently, it has been good news that several measures have been put in place to combat poor reproductive health performance. And these have supplemented the previously child centered health care programs that at times put the attention off the mothers.
Broad based programs that are globally supported and guided by WHO have improved the situation and interventions have included focus on broader reproductive and health issues. We’ll note some of the ways to improve maternal health and these include:
- Empower women: Poorer countries are heavily laden with challenges in educating the girl child and the gulf in knowledge affects measures undertaken by women to reduce the level of risk involved in maternal health. Empowered women know the importance and subsequently demand access to maternal health care and are also well versed with their reproductive rights.
- Positive government policy in ensuring availability of safe delivery kits in resource constrained areas. Also providing free antenatal education programs and care.
- Providing access to contraception
- Educating men: This is important because better results are achieved when both men and women take responsibility, for example would-be fathers taking an interest in all maternal processes to provide support for mothers.
- Tackle child marriages
- Emphasize proper dieting and nutrition during pregnancy.