Details have emerged that expectant women are shunning hospitals due to misconceptions surrounding Covid.
The development dampens gains achieved in safe motherhood interventions.
Presidential Adviser on Safe Motherhood Dorothy Ngoma said random visits to hospitals revealed that pregnant women had stopped seeking healthcare services due to misconception that they would be forced to get a Covid vaccine jab.
“This means, in terms of reducing maternal mortality rate, we are taking the wrong direction. Instead of fighting for zero [maternal mortality rate], we are going up,” she said.
She said, due to prevalent misconceptions, some expectant women were seeking refuge in birth attendants, who cannot handle labour complications.
“That is bad news because, if these women stay home, chances are very high that cases of maternal death will increase. We need to do more to dispel misconceptions. Remember many adolescents have gotten pregnant during this Covid pandemic period. If they do not seek proper healthcare, it should be a cause for worry,” she said.
Lilongwe District Hospital Medical officer Thokozani Liwewe said they were equally affected.
Liwewe said, out of every 100 women, only 30 were seeking antenatal care services
“Bwaila Hospital was one of the centres which were treating people with Covid and people think it is also a highly contagious area, which has had a significant negative impact on maternal cases,” the medical expert said.
On average, Malawi registers 429 death per 100,000 live births and efforts are being made to reduce the number to 150 per 100,000 live births.