Lifestyle diseases and HIV-Aids have become the leading causes of the death of expectant mothers in North West, says health MEC Magome Masike.
Addressing health workers at the Sannieshof sports ground recently, Masike said the mortality rate of expectant mothers or mothers who had given birth within 42 days was cause for serious concern in the province as well as nationally.
Health workers needed to understand the important role they played in decreasing maternal and child mortality and combating HIV-Aids, TB and other diseases.
The health workers were part of a campaign aimed at promoting the use of condoms to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
Urging community members to report all maternal deaths, he said many deaths happened at home and were not reported to health facilities.
Only 78% of pregnant women are delivering at state health facilities. This implies about 22% of women were either having their babies at home or en route to a health facility.
“It is important to book early for antenatal check-ups for early interventions and to have access to treatment in time,” said Masike.
Mothers also needed to enrol in the HIV prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme to prevent HIV transmission to the child.
Masike cited hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, as an example of a lifestyle disease.
The department’s director of reproduction and nutrition, Grace Tsele, advised women to book early and to visit their local health facility as soon as they thought they were pregnant so that possible risks to mother and child could be identified early.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, more than 4500 maternal deaths occurred in South Africa annually.
A United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal aimed to reduce the number of maternal deaths to at least 38 per 100 000 births by 2015. – AENS