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Chief Makwangwala blames faith leaders

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Senior Chief Makwangwala of Ntcheu has said faith and religious leaders who prevent their followers from attending ante-natal services and delivering at health facility are perpetuating maternal deaths in the district.

Speaking recently in Ntcheu when he led some chiefs in the country in Results-Based Financing for Maternal and Neonatal Health (RBF4MNH) sensitisation road shows, Inkosi Makwangwala, said stopping women from accessing ante-natal clinics (ANC) and delivering at the hospital should be made criminal and prosecutable by law.

“Generally people of Ntcheu have embraced RBF4MNH initiative but there are pockets of people who are laggards [and] they resist change especially religious groups that discourage their followers from going to the hospital to access maternal services and this is one of the greatest challenges facing the programme,” Makwangwala said.

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He said the faith leaders bar their faithful from going to hospitals but believe in faith healing.

Concurring with Chief Makwangwala, RBF4MNH Advocacy Commi t tee vice chair Senior Chief Kachindamoto said Malawi did not achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Number Five which talks of reducing maternal deaths due to women who still deliver at traditional birth attendants.

“This (RBF4MNH) programme has shown it is possible to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality rate and we are hopeful that scaling up the programme country wide in the post 2015 era would result in reduced maternal and newborn deaths and also help Malawi achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) three,” Chief Kachindamoto said.

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The chief further said the initiative has become a silver bullet that has improved quality of health care and reduced maternal and newborn mortality in Malawi especially in the four participating districts of Dedza, Balaka, Mchinji and Ntcheu.

Bhima Mkutumula, Ntcheu RBF4MNH coordinator, said the campaign in the district has targeted market days to communicate and increase demand for maternal services so that more women get enrolled into the programme.

The programme is funded by Germany and Royal Norwegian Government.

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