Maternal mortality worsens

Maternal mortality worsens

MASERU – Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing says maternal mortality has worsened in Lesotho with an increase in deaths from 370 per 100 000 in 1990 to 1 024 per 100 000 in 2014.

Speaking at the launch of the Millennium Development Goals 2015 Report yesterday, Metsing said this is despite an increase in skilled personnel attending to births since 2001.
“This is unacceptable, but I can assure you that our development partners are aware of this and the government is doing something about this,” Metsing said.

“Recently the government over and above the budget of the Ministry of Health, injected M37 million for that money to be used to increase the number of health professionals in the ministry, increase doctors, nurses and pharmacies,” he said. Metsing added that the budget is aimed at addressing the alarming situation.

“I am told that these figures I am sharing with you are from the Demographic Health Survey of 2014 and our expectation is that with the next health survey, there will be lot of improvement.”
He said the issue of children dying during delivery is a very big issue to the government and urged the entire Basotho nation to look into the matter.

“It is sad that most (tragedies) happen to women who do not give birth at clinics but at home. I know a lot has been done such as building of more clinics so that women can access the clinics easily, hiring of more doctors, nurses, pharmacists even though it is not enough but we are going to redouble our efforts to ensure that the situation is addressed. And I was also indicating that village health workers have to be managed better because they are also a very critical component in this fight,” Metsing said.

“The challenge we face regarding our development partners is that there is always a cautious note not to balloon the wage bill as we are asked not to employ many people at the same time.
“But that creates a problem for us because we are unable to address some of these challenges,” Metsing said.

“Experience from the implementation of the MDGs has demonstrated that significant progress can be made with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will,” he said. He said the report was the fifth and the final one since 2005. He added progress had been made in some areas, however.

Speaking about the under-five mortality rate, Metsing said there was tremendous improvement in that in 2005 the rate fell from 113 and 81 per 1 000 live births to 85 and 59 in 2015.
He however said the country missed the target slightly because “we failed to achieve the target of 37 deaths for 1 000 live births for under-five mortality and 27 for infant mortality”.
“Lesotho substantially achieved its target of immunisation against measles for one year olds with an immunisation of 90 percent of its one year olds against measles,” he said.
On the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Metsing said the prevalence rate among adults “is still high at 25 percent, the second highest in the world despite various interventions undertaken to curb the spread of HIV infections”.

Metsing said there is an urgent need to improve on policy development and implementation, focusing on coordinated and integrated multi-sectoral approach to development.
He also said the government urgently needs to decentralise its services, improve monitoring and evaluation systems for establishing baselines and tracking progress.
He also said there is need to improve sectoral capacity for implementation and ensuring that different sectors of society know about this development agenda.
Metsing said the government “has committed to address the unfinished business of the MDGs along with the implementation of the Agenda 2013” or the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Agenda 2030 will be integrated into the new National Strategic Development Plan, Metsing said.

“The Agenda sets forth a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity and seeks to strengthen universal peace,” he said.
Metsing said the government has come out with a Development Agenda Rollout Roadmap to support the country in implementing the SDGs, and regional agendas such as the Agenda 2063.
“The government of Lesotho in collaboration with UN Agencies started the process of sensitisation, prioritisation, localisation and mainstreaming of the SDGs into national policies and plans,” he said.

He said the SDGs call for increased efforts by governments in terms of technical capacities and financial resources for implementation.
“We may be aware that the country is currently facing serious financial challenges compounded by the decline in SACU revenues and increase in expenditures,” Metsing said.
“In order to achieve the SDGs, the country needs to embark on a rigorous resource mobilisation strategy both internally and externally,” he said.
“We believe that harmonisation and coordination across UN agencies in supporting countries in the domestication exercise will further strengthen this exercise and facilitate sharing of best practices.”

’Mapule Motsopa

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