The World Health Organization and the Government of Japan support maternal health at the Kuisebmund Health Center
It’s a Wednesday morning at the Kuisebmund Health Center and Shirleyn Awases is among 20 women seeking antenatal care services at the centre.
The 31-year-old recently had a miscarriage and not long before she gave birth to a stillborn baby.
This time, the mother of a 10-year-old boy is expecting another baby.
And, although she is nervous about what could go wrong, Awases is also hopeful that with the ultrasound machine recently donated to the Kuisebmund Health Center, the doctor will be able to better detect any abnormalities during her pregnancy with this technology.
The World Health Organization (WHO), with financial support of US$270,000 (approximately N$4,579,200) from the Government of Japan, donated a sonar to the Kuisebmund Health Center in March this year (2022).
The support is intended to strengthen maternal and child health services in Namibia.
Kuisebmund Health Center is one of 16 district health centers that benefited from support from the WHO and the Japanese government.
“We realized that we needed additional support in terms of ultrasound machines that help with early detection of the growth and development of the baby in the mother’s womb and if there are any problems, they can be detected early,” said the representative of the WHO.
, Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses.
The COVID -19 pandemic disrupted essential health services, including maternal and child health services.
“We were trying to respond to that outage,” Sagoe-Moses explained.
Meanwhile, Awases is happy to have the opportunity to have an ultrasound early in her pregnancy.
“We were struggling to pay private doctors for ultrasounds because they are expensive.
We also had a lot of trouble with that sonar which is at Walvisbay State Hospital.
People are only seen by appointment and the waiting periods are painfully long,” she explained.
This, she says, is why she did not seek medical attention when she noticed that her baby was no longer moving as much as before.
“I lost my baby at six months in April of last year,” he explains.
She became pregnant again in October of the same year.
This time, she didn’t know.
“They only told me that I had a miscarriage, and that I was two months pregnant,” she explains.
Kuisebmund Health Center is within walking distance of Awases and many other women like her who are struggling to make a living.
Cornelia Stramish recently moved to Walvisbay.
She also agrees that not all women receiving antenatal care at the Kuisebmund Health Center have the money to seek the services of a private doctor.
As a result, an ultrasound is a luxury that many at the Center did not enjoy in the past.
Women often had ultrasounds toward the end of their pregnancies or in the event of a medical emergency, adds Dr. Augusto Gawab, Acting Chief Medical Officer at Walvisbay District Hospital.
“The Kuisebmund Health Center is the largest clinic in the region in terms of the number of patients who come here.
As a result, we have a heavy workload,” explains Gawab.
Prior to March 2021, most ultrasounds were performed at Walvisbay District Hospital.
The gynecologist assigned to the Hospital for ultrasound would see up to 45 or more patients per day for ultrasounds.
The hospital’s ultrasound scanner not only cares for pregnant mothers, but for all patients who need it.
“The doctors at the hospital were overloaded.
This ultrasound machine was donated at the right time because it has really helped us reduce the burden and influx of patients to the hospital who need sonar,” explained Gawab.
Now that the Kuisebmund Health Center has an ultrasound, Gawab is confident that abnormalities will be detected early in a woman’s pregnancy.
“I am confident that we will have reduced prenatal mortality,” he said.
In the past, Gawab saw a situation of two to three stillbirths in a month.
“We have also had cases of women who do not feel the movement of their babies.
We also have women who are not sure exactly when they conceived.
Sonar will be able to detect all of these things,” Gawab said.
Cornelius Nuunyango is the Walvisbay District Primary Health Care Supervisor.
“We have a high population within a small geographic area.
Kuisebmund Health Center is very busy because it is right in the community,” he explains.
Nuuyango feels another ultrasound machine would further ease the burden on health facilities in the Erongo region.
“This is the first time we have a sonar at that Facility.
Previously we only had one sonar and that is the one at the hospital,” he said.
Due to demand, some women went to a private doctor to get an ultrasound of their baby and paid up to $1,000 for the ultrasound.
Erongo health director Anna Jonas praised the WHO and the Japanese government for the donation.
“This sonar was really helpful because according to our prenatal guidelines, a woman is supposed to have an ultrasound within 24 weeks of her pregnancy,” Jonas said.