Pregnant in troubled times

Pregnant in troubled times

MASERU-AT eight and half months pregnant, Rethabile Kometsi is gravely worried.
Due to the lockdown that came into effect two weeks ago, she may be unable to reach the hospital due to the unavailability of public transport, forcing her to deliver at home.

The lockdown imposed by the government to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus has not spared public transport operators who are now working for limited hours.

The newly amended public health gazette towards COVID-19 allows taxi operators to be on the road between 7am and 1pm.
For Kometsi, the decision is affecting her ability to access health centres.
“I can deliver anytime soon, what am I going to do?” she says.

Kometsi says even although she does not stay far from the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic, she sometimes needs to use a taxi as it is sometimes very tiring to walk to and from Qoaling where she stays.
She stays within three kilometres from the clinic.

“There is no movement at all. What if I deliver while on the way? Who will notice me as people are in their own houses?” she asks.
She says sometimes she hires a cab to take her home from the clinic but now the cabs also have no travel permits.

Kometsi says on Monday she was stopped by a soldier while going to a local grocery shop to buy food and the soldier ordered her to comply with the lockdown and return home.

Although “it is good” for people to stay at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus “the government should not overdo it”, she says.
“The government should at least assist, either by visiting the clinics or hospitals to find out how many pregnant women are likely to deliver during the lockdown so that they could be able to open services such as new born baby clothes shops for a certain time,” she says.

The lockdown and its strict enforcement could have serious consequences for women’s health, especially pregnant women.
Besides the possibility of missing their ante-natal visits because of limited means of transport, pregnant women will give birth with few or no clothes for their newly born babies.

Clothing stores are not among the designated essential service stores that are allowed to open during the 21 day lockdown that started two weeks ago.
In Maseru, Shoprite and Clicks are the only major stores which sell baby clothes which are open during this period.
But not everyone can buy baby clothes from these stores, especially those in other districts.

thepost spoke to pregnant women on how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected them.
’Makatleho Mafeka gave birth to a baby boy two weeks ago and had only bought new born baby sized clothes hoping that she would get time to buy more clothes when she knew the gender of the baby.

Mafeka had to resort to clothing her boy in his sisters’ clothes.
“Imagine having a boy in girl’s clothes. We have even started taking from the baby budget to buy food,” Mafeka says.
Another woman, Shoany Posholi said the cold season that is setting in could

worsen the situation.
“All we need is just a week of opening clothing stores to allow new mothers and pregnant women to buy clothes for their babies”, she says, pleading: “Just one week.”

’Makamo Phalo-Kokotelo says the lockdown “hit women below the belt”. (WRONG IDIOM)
Phalo-Kokotelo isn’t pregnant but says she appreciated that baby clothes are an essential need and that the government should consider the needs of babies.
“The lockdown came when some people were broke and couldn’t buy anything at the time” she says.

Emma Mochesane says her daughter gave birth three weeks ago and she had bought a few neutral coloured new born clothes but the lockdown messed their plans.

“You should see us struggle to clothe him when it rains all day,” Mochesane says.
Margaret Moloi is pregnant and she says she is already frustrated about the prospect of giving birth.
Buying clothes for babies is the least of some pregnant women’s problems.

A coalition of health care practitioners is on a go-slow in many clinics and hospitals in the country.
Nurses, doctors, nurse assistants, nurse anaesthetic, pharmacists, technicians and laboratory scientists are only attending to emergencies.
The coalition of health care professionals have met with Deputy Minister of Health, ’Manthabiseng Phohleli and the Director of Disease Control at the Ministry of Health Dr ’Makhoase Ranyali-Otubanjo, asking to be capacitated with training and equipment provision in response to the coronavirus.

The coalition says the government is ignoring “many other requests”.
As a result of the industrial action, many clinics and hospitals are currently not offering ante-natal services.

Mothepane Thahane, the spokesperson for Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, confirmed an increase in the number of ante-natal patients in four of the hospital clinics.
The increase follows the health practitioners’ go-slow in other health facilities.

Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital is the national referral hospital.
She says the hospital and clinics see at least 700 patients a day and these are out-patients only.
“We have more women coming in to deliver and we are under so much pressure,” Thahane says.

The government’s decision to restrict the times taxis can operate, and the strike have come as a nightmare for many expectant and nursing mothers.
“To get to a clinic is a hustle and getting back home is worse. It does not help that health facilities are not working,” Limakatso Tšehlo, a pregnant woman, told thepost.

Tšehlo says she missed her ante-natal appointment last week because she wasn’t sure if it would be safe to go a clinic.
Tšehlo stays in Ha-Leqele and normally goes to the Makoanyane Military Hospital for her visits but the hospital has joined in on the go-slow.
“My hope was with Gateway Clinic but we are just too many,” she says.
Gateway is attached to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

Rose Moremoholo & Itumeleng Khoete

Previous Oust Thabane, says Chief Theko
Next Senate to vote on Bill that will clip Thabane’s wings

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