Drive to save mothers, babies

​​Prof Andre SWART, Executive dean at the Faculty of Health Sciences, comments on South Africa’s maternal health development.​

MORE than 260 mothers, babies and children die every day in South Africa, 20,000 babies are stillborn every year and 70 percent of these cases are preventable and treatable.
Locally the maternal mortality rate is higher than in most other middle-income countries with similar levels of economic development.
Professor André Swart of the University of Johannesburg attributes this to many factors, including under-trained professionals and under-funding towards maternal health.”Our approach at this stage is a curative one, but we need to formulate an integrated approach that will combine both preventative and curative measures,” Swart said.
Swart also said the levels of poverty in this country made it difficult for the appropriate use of resources.”If a clinic is a taxi ride away, people will not go to the clinic, considering that 20 percent of our population lives on R14 a day,” he said.
According to the Philips Mother & Childcare 2011 report more than two-thirds of South African mothers are not confident about the prenatal care they received during pregnancy.
The study states that “South African mothers do not rely on specialists such as gynecologists but on general practitioners and state funded facilities, which places an even greater emphasis on adequate training and education in the area of healthcare professionals.”
In order to facilitate better use of resources in hospitals and better trained professionals, hospitals need to be run like a business, South African Medical Device Industry managing director Marlon Burgess said.
“Hospital officials need to be taught and equipped to run hospitals like businesses. In that way they will know how to ensure that everyone is well-trained and resources are used properly,” Burgess said.
Diana du Plessis, an independent midwifery consultant, said another way to ensure that babies live longer and are healthy is breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding has been recognised, for most of human history, to be crucial for infant survival and offers significant benefits,” she said.
UJ and Philips sign Memorandum of understanding to facilitate the training of future healthcare professionals in South Africa.
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