Malawi. August 2011
In Chichewa, Malawi?s language, the words for pregnancy - ?pakati? and ?matenda?- translate into ?between life and death? and ?sick?, respectively.
Annually, nearly 6000 Malawi women are dying from preventable or treatable complications of pregnancy and access to quality of emergency obstetric and neonatal care remains a challenge.
Direct causes include: sepsis, obstructed labour, ruptured uterus, hemorrhage, eclampsia and unsafe abortion. Indirect causes include conditions which are aggravated by pregnancy, such as malaria, HIV and diabetes.
Both direct and indirect causes of maternal mortality are further impacted by issues such as a lack of health care staff (primarily nurses and midwives), lack of resources such as medical supplies, equipment and drugs.
These conditions became worst for women living in rural areas, excluded from services due to distances, associated cost of transport, inadequate staffing in the health facilities and poor infrastructure in nearby facilities.
Quality midwifery is a well-documented component of success in saving the lives of women and newborns. Unfortunately in Malawi maternal and newborn health staff are overworked and underpaid: there are very few nurses as compared to the number of patients because some of the nurses go abroad in search of good paying jobs and other incentives that developed countries offer to them.
Malawi has been making progress over the past two decades on maternal health but it is not yet on track to achieve millennium development goals 2015 targets.
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