Op-Ed, Word count (709)
Unsafe motherhood in Sudan: a multidimensional problem
Less than one year ago the Sudanese federal ministry of health has adopted a new policy to provide free health care for pregnant women. I am hereby urging the president Omer Elbasheir and his administration to allocate more funds to ensure the effective implementation of this policy. The minister of finance and economic planning should assign more financial resources to support the ongoing efforts to improve maternal health.
Sudan has the highest number of maternal deaths in Africans. The number is increasing as time goes. To control this problem government should invest more resources to reducing maternal deaths. It is totally legitimate to wonder why maternal health should be a top health priority. With each mother dying the household is losing a key family member. Sudanese mothers are shouldering major responsibilities at home in addition to their contribution at community and national level. Starting from the first day of pregnancy mothers are responsible to keep the baby grow and stay healthy. Mothers spend a lot of their critical time to breastfeed their babies. Breast milk in many part of Sudan means life for young kids. It is safe, available on demand, nutritious, and allows the baby keep close to his mother to satisfy his emotional needs. The holy mission of the mother continues to look after children whenever they are sick. Sudanese women are keen to raise their children to become productive members in their community. That is why they feed the child not only food but also faith and good values. Moreover, women are taking other responsibilities of housekeeping. In many regions in Sudan, women walk for long distance to collect water. They also prepare food for the family and keep the necessary good hygiene within the house. By keeping the house and the surroundings clean women are improving the hygiene at the community. As life is getting more expensive, Sudanese women are taking new responsibilities to help their families. Regardless of their educational level, women are serving in both private and public sectors to allow their families live in dignity. Far-sighted people see healthy mothers as the main pillars for strong economy. Healthy and fertile women could offer the country the young generation that is needed to build the economy.
Because of the strategic role of mothers within families and communities, maternal health services should be improved. A major obstacle to scale up maternal health facilities in Sudan is the scarcity of the available funds. In order for health facilities to provide free services to pregnant mothers, they should secure enough money to run the service. As hospitals are already suffering lack of financial resources, the government should increase the budget for women’s health care. To achieve safe motherhood health planners and policy makers should adopt evidence-based interventions. In 1985 Rosenﬁeld and Maine D. published a paper in the lancet concluding that pregnancy related bleeding and complicated labor are major killers of mothers. They also suggested that family planning can decrease the number of mothers dying remarkably. Taking this evidence into consideration I strongly suggest four main interventions. The first one is proper medical training program for health personnel working in maternity settings. Well trained cadres can perform safe delivery and successfully handle difficult labor. The second intervention is provision and scale up of blood transfusion units in all facilities performing delivery. The hospital referral system is the third recommended life-saving tool that needs to be strengthened. A referral system can never be strong and effective without, at least, one fully functioning ambulance. The last intervention that I do need to insist on is expanding the access to family planning clinics. Family planning has a key role in preventing unintended pregnancy. Frequent pregnancy, without moderate spacing, may lead to maternal exhaustion and threaten woman’s life. Early pregnancy e.g. teenage pregnancy is highly associated with health problems and complicated labor.
I do believe that every single maternal death counts. To save those compassionate mothers I strongly recommend that our government allocate more resources to improve maternal health. It is our responsibility as health professionals to use the available resources effectively in order to decrease maternal mortality. With the good intention of the Sudanese president and his administration, I am quite sure that these recommendations will be taken seriously.