Antenatal care reducing child infections in Maridi
Twenty-five year Ruba Namana proudly holds her 2-month old baby Kezia in her arms. The baby is healthy and is showing a good growth record. “This was my second pregnancy and it was much easier than my first one. I didn’t always know how to take care of my first baby. She had skin infections and often fell ill. I was worried that she would die,” says Namana. “With my second baby, I began attending antenatal clinics at Maridi Hospital much earlier, by the second month, until the last trimester.”
A report from the World Health Organization indicates that a higher frequency of antenatal contacts by women and adolescent girls with a health provider is associated with a reduced likelihood of stillbirths and maternal mortality. Globally, while 86% of pregnant women access antenatal care with a skilled health personnel at least once, only three in five (62%) receive at least four antenatal visits.
Antenatal visits are key in the health of the pregnant woman and the unborn baby. Through the visits women get advice on healthy diet and nutrition and safe physical activities to engage in during the pregnancy. They also get information about the prevention of diseases such as malaria and HIV, the health of their baby through fetal measurements and guidance on future vaccinations. Complications during the pregnancy are identified and addressed in order to reduce the chances of maternal mortality.
The South Sudan Country Programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) is implementing a health project with a focus on reducing maternal and child mortality in Maridi Country, South Sudan. One of the components in this programme is the management of the Maridi Hospital. AAH-I has been managing the Maridi Hospital since the early 90’s. “Maternal health indicators in South Sudan are among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. Our work at the Maridi Hospital is to ensure that most maternal deaths that can be prevented do not occur. In 2017 alone, we had 6,088 women attend four antenatal visits,” says Maridi State Hospital Medical Officer Monica Ejidio.
“During the antenatal checks I learnt how to recognize signs of infection and use mosquito nets. I also learnt how to bath my baby, feed her and keep her warm. I didn’t bathe my first daughter correctly, so she had a few wounds on her arms that got infected. This did not happen with my second daughter because I followed the guidance I received at the antenatal clinics at Maridi Hospital. I am now more aware of the correct diet I should take for good milk production. I feel more confident now and I am grateful that my daughter is healthy.”