Making a difference in Namibia

News article 24 Jan 2017
Collecting data at Onyaanya Health Centre

We've recently completed a national assessment of healthcare facilities in Namibia, focusing on emergency obstetric and newborn care, in close collaboration with WHO and the Government of Namibia.

CMNH technical experts, led by Dr Charles Ameh and Dr Somla Gopalakrishnan, worked with the Technical Working Group of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) to design, pilot and refine tools used for the national assessment. In September 2016 we trained 59 data collectors and during September-October they collected data from 123 healthcare facilities. Dissemination of the findings and recommendations will be made to MoHSS and relevant stakeholders in January and March 2017.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Namibia increased from 249 per 100,000 in 1992 to 385 per 100,000 in 2013. However, 97% of pregnant women attend antenatal care and 87% give birth assisted by skilled healthcare workers, at healthcare facilities. The Government of Namibia developed a National Health Policy Framework 2010-2020 and set new targets for reduction of MMR (MMR of 200/100, 00 live births by 2018). In order to achieve this target, accurate and relevant data about the quality of care within the maternal and newborn health services is needed.

Through the European Union funded Program for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM), CMNH was contracted to support the MoHSS in conducting a comprehensive health system analysis of maternal and newborn health services, including emergency obstetric and newborn care services.Field training at Oshakati Hospital

WHO Namibia has so far built five maternity waiting homes and purchased ambulances to transporting pregnant women in need of emergency services, funding by the EU PARMaCM program. Life-saving equipment and supplies were procured, and healthcare providers were trained to use and maintain the equipment. Doctors were trained in emergency obstetrics surgery and in anaesthesia. WHO Namibia also contracted CMNH to provide and evaluate skilled and competency based ‘hands on’ training to midwives for comprehensive emergency obstetrics and newborn care. We provided technical support in establishing two skills training centres and developed capacity for supportive supervision.

Professor Monir Islam, WHO Representative to Namibia, reflecting the views of midwives and government officials trained, felt the CMNH programme was “a most cost effective use of EU funding”. He went on to say “this holistic approach, improving quality of care is seen to be making a difference in saving the lives of mothers and newborns in Namibia.”