Floods in Malawi threaten maternal and newborn health

Floods have hit Malawi and have left thousands destitute. While we appreciate that a lot are suffering, where does this leave a pregnant woman and issues of maternal and newborn health?

We are in a state of disaster. The rains that have poured on our lands in the last couple of days, especially in the Southern Region of the country, have left 48 people dead and counting plus thousands and thousands of Malawians destitute-nowhere to go, homeless, heartbroken and hungry. My heart bleeds heavily.

As I think and analyse all that is happening in my country, the maternal and newborn health advocate in me surfaces. Automatically I worry about what this means to our mothers and children.

Most roads and bridges across the country have now been rendered impassable making it impossible for pregnant women and mothers, in these affected areas, to make it to the hospital.

This brings ‘delay 2’ to full effect. For those that do not know, delay 2 is one of the three delays that are contributing to the high mortality rates in Malawi and this is the delay to get to the hospital.

So if a mother cannot make it to the hospital what does this mean?

The woman that is in labour now has to make do with where she is now and rely on those who surround her. This brings an increase to out of health facility deliveries. Should she have any complications, your fears are as good as mine.

Perhaps, in this situation those that initially decided not to deliver at a facility are better off as they had a plan in mind. But this woman, this woman we are talking about now, whose sole hope was the hospital is left helpless.

And then there is the woman who had a successful delivery with a healthy newborn. Everything she had has been washed away. Her baby is prone to infections- one of the leading causes of high newborn deaths in Malawi. What does she do?

On top of all these challenges there is the congestion in hospitals to think about, the challenge of delivery of essential drugs to hospitals and so many more challenges. One effect of these floods leads to the other and the other to the next. Disheartening!!

My mind is racing all over the place. I hope and pray that as the aid and relief comes in from all over the country and the world, we will have a special place in our hearts and minds where we will consider maternal and newborn health as a case on its own.

Cry my beloved Malawi, cry my beloved mothers and children!!!!

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