Save the babies

Save the babies

ELSEWHERE in this edition we carry a story on the alarming rise in the number of babies that are dying at health care facilities.

The Public Health Director Dr ’Nyane Letsie has expressed concern about the matter. The Ministry of Health has now set up a committee to investigate the matter.

The revelation comes after a structural clinical audit of babies dying in the paeadiatric and neonatal ward was carried out at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru in December.

While the statistics have not been made available to the media, the ministry admits that the figures are quite worrying.

A comprehensive assessment of the reasons for the spike in the deaths of infants must be carried out urgently if we are to arrest the crisis and reverse the damage.

We shall therefore be measured in our comments about what needs to be done.

But the point is that no lives should be lost unnecessarily.

Once a comprehensive assessment has been done, we would encourage the Ministry of Health to release the results of their investigation to the public for scrutiny. There should be no white-wash.

The current investigation gives the Ministry of Health an opportunity to review its performance and the quality of care that it is giving to children and the general populace.

While there are still issues regarding the delivery of effective health care in Lesotho, it would be a mistake on our part to fail to acknowledge the heroic efforts of dedicated medical personnel around the country.

We think of those who are working in remote districts under very trying circumstances. Despite the challenges, they stick it out and continue to deliver top-class service to their fellowmen.

We are not surprised that with such concerted efforts, we have managed to whittle down the infant mortality rate from 117 per 1 000 live births to the current 80 per 1 000 births over the last five years. That must be commended.

But that figure, admittedly, is still way short of the Millennium Development Goal of slashing the infant mortality rate to 37 per 1 000 live births.

The reality is that we are still losing too many babies unnecessarily. Much more needs to be done to arrest the crisis.

It has often been said that ours is a small country with big problems, particularly in the health sector. For instance, we have the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. At least 20 000 individuals die each year from AIDS-related illnesses.

International relief agencies say such high mortality rates “have affected not just the labour force but the social fabric as well through growing numbers of orphans and deepening levels of poverty”.

A holistic approach is required to deal with Lesotho’s health challenges by addressing the issues of poverty and food insecurity which could be feeding the higher mortality rates.

The government must also look into the conditions of service of factory workers.

Reports that some of the women factory workers are only afforded two weeks maternity leave are quite unnerving.

We would have failed dismally as a country where we to allow such ‘primitive’ conditions to exist in the factories. Such concerns by factory workers must be investigated and immediate corrective action taken to redress the situation.

 

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