FIRST lady, amai Axila Mnangagwa is engaging the ministry of health and child care (M0HCC) to enforce a standard which mandates government to penalise practitioners whose patients would have died under their care, a move which is set to nip negligence in the bud and reduce maternal deaths.
By Michael Gwarisa in Mahusekwa
Addressing a belated World Breast Feeding Day commemorations event in Mahusekwa, the first lady said under the proposed system, midwives and medical doctors will be required to write a detailed report of the circumstances that would have led to the demise of a pregnant patient and should the evidence point out to negligence, practitioners face severe consequences.
“The issue of negligence by midwives and doctors is a cause for concern. I will be engaging the ministry of health to ensure there is a policy that mandates midwives and doctors whose patients would have died while giving birth to explain their case and also face necessary punishment should it be found that it was a case of negligence. We are losing a lot of women just because some women are dying from pregnancy complications
“There should be a law that mandates medical practitioners and midwives to be accountable for their actions. We are pleading with the health ministry so that we reduce maternal deaths. Women are dying while the perpetrators are walking freely in the streets,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She added that pregnant women and lactating mothers should not be exposed to stress as it affects breast milk production. She also said breastfeeding was one simple way of ensuring the health of future generations is guaranteed.
“Breastfeeding has been shown to save over 800 000 children’s lives a year worldwide, equivalent to 13 percent of all deaths in children under two, and prevent an extra 20, 000 deaths from breast cancer every year.
“Breastfeeding also acts as a cornerstone for economic growth and development for nations.”
This year’s breastfeeding celebrations were running under the theme “Breastfeeding: Foundation for life.”
In 2016, the United Nations placed nutrition at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by declaring 2016 to 2025 as the UN Decade for Action on Nutrition.
World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Alex Gasasira said breastfeeding was a new born vaccine, providing vital antibodies and immunity.
“From the earliest moments of child’s life, breastfeeding can mean the difference between life and death. Putting new-borns to breast within the first hour of life safeguards against new-born deaths.
“In fact, improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 823,000 children under the age of five every year. In emergency settings, when communities are faced with limited access to clean water and basic health services, breast milk guarantees a safe, nutritious and accessible food source for infants and young children while shielding them from disease,” said Dr Gasasira.
He however lamented the low uptake of exclusivel breastfeeding practices the world over with indications that only about two out of five all new-borns are put to the breast within an hour of birth and only 40 percent of children under six months of aged are exclusively breastfed.
“There are many reasons why millions of women are unable to start continue breastfeeding successfully. For example, many women give birth without access to the quality care, counselling and support they need from health workers.
“Others are given infant formula or other substitutes in maternity facilities, when they could be breastfeeding. We must find new ways and new political will to help children wherever they live, so that they benefit from lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding.”
Meanwhile, a 2018 scorecard released by the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a partnership of more than 20 international agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations co-led by UNICEF and WHO call for more action and investment in a number of areas around breastfeeding.