Government has expressed concern over failure by the huge number of expecting mothers to register early for antenatal care thereby missing an opportunity to detect any existing problems that can develop, which could affect the mother or her unborn baby.
The deputy director of reproductive health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Mavin Venge, said most women were registering for antenatal care after 16 weeks or more of getting pregnant.
Antenatal care is a medical care and procedures that is carried out to pregnant women.
“Ideally we would want expecting mothers to come and register for antenatal care before the pregnancy reaches 16 weeks. This will give us an opportunity to screen for down syndrome symptoms if they come early. As a result most women miss this period,” Dr Venge said.
He said expecting mothers book after 20 weeks.
“An anomaly ultra sound scan is usually performed during this period which picks that the unborn baby has no limbs or does not have a brain so that people can adequately prepare. So we need to adequately prepare our women to book early,” Dr Venge said.
He said there was a decline in antenatal care bookings in the first half of 2022 when compared to previous years.
“Total bookings declined by 2% and bookings below 16 weeks gestation by 4% between the first half of 2021 and that of 2022,” Dr Venge said.
“Close to 80% of women have been delivering at institutions. We have been doing well but we need to do better, every woman has to give birth at a health institution.”
Dr Venge also revealed that Manicaland Province recorded the highest institutional maternal mortality rates in the country in the first half of this year.
He said the province reported 111 cases per 100 000 live births.
Institutional maternal mortality rate is the number of maternal deaths among 100 000 deliveries at a health facility.
Bulawayo and Harare provinces recorded no maternal deaths, whether at home or at any health facilities during the first half of the year.