By Staff Reporter
OPUWO, April 13 — Maternity waiting shelters are an essential lifeline for many pregnant women in rural areas of Namibia, where access to healthcare is often limited. The Kazetjitindire Angelika Muharukhua Maternity Waiting Home in Opuwo, Kunene Region, is one such shelter that provides a safe haven for expectant mothers who need to be close to a hospital.
For many women living in remote areas of Namibia, the prospect of giving birth in a hospital is fraught with difficulty. Poor roads, a lack of transportation and long distances to the nearest hospital all contribute to making it difficult for rural pregnant women to reach help in time to give birth safely. This puts mothers’ lives at risk, especially for teenage mothers like Karikikuta van der Merve, who is expecting her first child this month at the age of 18.
The Kunene region has Namibia’s lowest rate of hospital deliveries, which is why maternity waiting shelters located close to hospitals are so important. Kazetjitindire Angelika Muharukhua Maternity Waiting Home, which was built in 2013, houses up to 60 women and offers a shared kitchen, dining room, bathroom and meeting room.
However, when Karikikuta van der Merve arrived, the facility lacked important equipment. This matter was resolved with the donation of new furniture and kitchenware to the shelter, which has been welcomed by pregnant women. In addition, the 55 pregnant women housed at the home each received a dignity kit, cans of fish, maize meal and a bottle of cooking oil.
This donation was made possible by the Leaving No One Behind Project, implemented by UNFPA in eight regions of Namibia, including Omaheke, with funding from the Government of Japan. The project focuses on those most left behind, such as vulnerable women and girls, particularly those who live with disabilities, as well as pregnant and nursing women, in and out-of-school youth, and other groups susceptible to sexual and gender-based violence.
Maternal deaths and gender-based violence are not only human rights concerns but also essential to the achievement of national priorities and Sustainable Development Goals. Maternal mortality is at 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in Namibia, and most of these deaths are preventable. The proximity of the maternity waiting home to the hospital facilitates timely interventions when complications of pregnancy and delivery occur.
Namibia’s high rate of teen pregnancy, especially in the Kunene region, where it is at 23 per cent, has negative consequences for the individual, families and society. Preventing teen pregnancy through comprehensive sex education, access to contraception and social support can improve outcomes for teen parents and their children.
In conclusion, maternity waiting shelters are essential in ensuring that pregnant women in remote areas of Namibia can access healthcare and give birth safely. The donation of equipment and basic supplies by the Leaving No One Behind Project has made a significant difference in the lives of expectant mothers like Karikikuta van der Merve, and the project’s focus on vulnerable groups is an important step in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Preventing teen pregnancy through education, access to contraception and social support can improve outcomes for young mothers and their children and break the cycle of poverty. – Namibia Daily News