Delivering at home

Delivering at home

BUTHA-BUTHE -THE Linakeng Health Centre has stopped delivering babies due to a serious shortage of electricity, thepost heard last week.
The last operations were carried out in June 2017 a situation that has never been addressed for two years.
MPs and other government officials were incensed when they were told of the development last week.
The health centre serves over 20 000 people and the unavailability of such an essential service could increase the rate of maternal and infant mortality, as many women end up delivering their babies at home.

Teboho Lebula, the nurse-in-charge at the centre, revealed the sad state of affairs during an oversight visit to Butha-Buthe health facilities by the Parliament’s Social Cluster Portfolio committee.
The visit was also extended to three health centres in Mokhotlong district.
Lebula said the lack of electricity was the main cause of the problems at the health centre.
Lebula said the solar system at the centre had been affected by battery failure.
“We were told that the battery died because no one poured distilled water into it,” she said.

The Ministry of Health’s Head of Family Health, Dr ‘Makhoase Ranyali, questioned the decision to suspend the delivery of babies, saying they could be done even under candlelight or lamps.
Others wondered why the centre could not utilise a generator that is available.
However, Lebula dismissed suggestions that authorities at the centre were being lazy, maintaining that staff “do all that they can” to provide services during emergencies.
This health centre services 46 villages, 30 of which are in remote areas.
It has four health posts and three of them offer intermittent services because of bad weather conditions.
Dr Lebohang Sao said the faulty solar system was not the main issue but the incompetent maintenance officers.
“Had our maintenance officer been trained in solar maintenance they could have probably been fixed,” she said, adding that solar system problems were not peculiar to the centre.
She said other centres, such as Tsime, had managed to navigate through the problem.

Lebula said they were waiting for the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) to inspect the electricity and solar system.
The LMDA oversees and manages implementation of work in progress which were not finalised by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).
The LMDA built the health centre under Phase One of the MCA programme.

Lebula says the centre cannot afford costs associated with running the generator as an alternative power source.
The visiting entourage, which included MPs, the district health officer, District Administrator and Dr Ranyali, appeared stunned by Lebula’s claims.
Butha-Buthe district is now left with three hospitals performing baby deliveries, Seboche, Butha-Buthe and St Paul Health Centre after Linakeng suspended services.
This has posed a serious problem for pregnant women from rural areas that used to rely on Linakeng for services but now have to travel for about 25km to the nearest health facilities.
‘Malukisang Qhoomo, chairperson of the clinics committee, said after the visit, they still do not understand why the management of the clinic decided to shut down the baby-delivery services.
“We used to deliver our babies in candle-lit rooms in our times,” Qhoomo said.

She said the situation is dire, claiming that she witnessed two pregnant women delivering babies a few meters away from the centre.
Qhoomo further alleged that nurses ignored requests by villagers to help pregnant women on the brink of delivery, saying they only help people within the centre’s premises.
The chairperson of Parliament’s Social Cluster, Fako Moshoeshoe, expressed concern at the prevailing situation.
A patient at the health centre, ‘Mapalesa Makhoathi, said “it is really frustrating” for pregnant women to travel long distances to deliver.
She said high travel expenses forced many women to deliver unsafely at home.

Makhoathi said unlike in the past, traditional birth attendants who could help with home births are no longer available in communities, posing a serious threat to the lives of pregnant women who have to be assisted by unskilled women.
She says although she knew nothing about delivering a baby, she was once part of a delivery party that served a mother in need.

Rose Moremoholo

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