By CHRISTINE CHISHA
THE University Teaching Hospital (UTH) records 60 deliveries per day with one third of the women delivering on the floor because of limited facilities, a Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) survey has revealed.
And Government says it has adopted some interventions to improve health care to children and mothers but that this needs concerted efforts from all interest groups.
Delivering the findings, survey secretary Swebby Macha said the UTH labour ward has had 17 bed delivery spaces since inception in 1969 despite Lusaka’s growing population and that there is a shortage of staff.
“There is a glaring shortage of midwives in the labour ward, which has an average of 60 deliveries per day. The midwife-patient ratio translates to one midwife to six patients
“There is also a shortage of theatre nurses with an average three nurses per shift making it impossible to fully optimise the obstetrician theatre at any given time,” Dr Macha said.
He was speaking in Lusaka yesterday at the dissemination meeting of the report on the state of maternal and new-born health care in Lusaka Province.
The survey comprised five members and was launched in February this year.
The survey was an initiative of the ZMA which was prompted to set up a task force after receiving numerous complaints from the public and health professionals concerning the poor maternal and neonatal outcomes at UTH.
Dr Macha said the task force conducted a situation analysis at Kafue and Levy Mwanawasa hospitals, Chawama, Chilenje, Mtendere, Matero and Chipata clinics where the findings were similar to those at UTH.
He said the survey revealed that UTH is ill-defined and despite being a referral hospital, it has been functioning as a level one, two and three hospital with regard to maternal cases.
Dr Macha said there is need to construct a bigger and modern labour ward and delivery space should be expanded from the current 17 to 28 delivery beds.
“We propose that 15 midwives be deployed to labour ward to reduce the midwife-to-patient ratio from one to six patients to one midwife to three patients. This will improve on the monitoring of the labouring mothers evidenced by the findings,” he said.
Dr Macha said Lusaka district has 28 public clinics with only 10 of them offering maternity services.
And receiving the report, Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi said it is sad that neonatal mortality rate has remained stagnant over the last two decades at between 36 to 40 deaths out of 1,000 live births every year.
“It is of concern also that every four hours, a Zambian woman dies due to pregnancy- related conditions. In addition, 119 under-five children out of every 1,000 die every year and the causes of new-born deaths are preventable,” she said.
Ms Kabanshi said to reverse the situation, Government has adopted some interventions such as the Option B+ for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission which provides antiretroviral therapy to all HIV-positive pregnant women.
She said focused antenatal care has been incorporated in training workers in 27 districts with inclusion of rapid syphilis training as an intervention.
On new-born deaths, Ms Kabanshi said Government has committed to global commitments such as ‘a promise renewed’ and the objectives of the Family Planning 2020. The government has been guiding the programme to ensure that health priorities are accompanied by plans and resources to reduce mortality for maternal, new-born and child health.