Roma – In an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the country, the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has constructed a fully equipped 20-bed Waiting Mothers’ Lodge (WML) at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Roma, that will enable pregnant women to be close to health care services when they approach their due dates.
In a country like Lesotho, where more than 70% of the population live in rural areas and where reliable public transport is almost non existent, distance to the clinics is one of the main barriers to accessing health care. It is expected that the WML will contribute to a reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity.
“50 % of maternal deaths are caused by obstetric complications during labour, at the time of delivery or shortly after. These complications are often impossible to predict. This is why it is important for mothers to have a facility where they can deliver safely, and where they are attended by skilled personnel who can manage unforeseen complications” said Sofie Manantsoa, the Project Medical Referent of MSF.
Lesotho’s maternal mortality rate, which is the rate of deaths of women during pregnancy, labour and up to six weeks after delivery, has increased by nearly three fold in the last decade to reach 1155 deaths /100.000 live births, and 58% is associated with HIV/TB, making Lesotho one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth.
Although the WML at St. Joseph’s hospital is expected to improve access to health care services for pregnant women, MSF remains concerned over the overall lack of maternal care services within the area. Currently, there are only 2 clinics in Roma and Semonkong, in addition to the St. Joseph’s Hospital, that provide facility-based delivery services.
“MSF remains committed to support efforts in reducing maternal mortality in Roma and Semonkong. The main remaining challenge is the lack of facilities that are able to provide facility based deliveries. The existing ones are nowhere near sufficient to handle the 4000 expected annual deliveries within the area. We strongly call for the realisation of the Ministry of Health’s Millennium Accelerated Framework Initiative to ensure safe facility based deliveries for all Basotho Women” said Syanness Tunggal, the MSF project coordinator.
Doctors Without Borders has been present in Lesotho since 2006. It is currently running a project in Roma and Semongkong catchment area of Maseru district, with the aim to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. The organisation supports 1 hospital, 9 clinics and 12 health posts for a rural population of 170,000 inhabitants.