Marked im­prove­ment in health in­di­ca­tors - re­port

Sunday Express - - NEWS - Lim­pho Sello

THE re­cently re­leased 2014 Le­sotho De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey (LDHS) pre­lim­i­nary re­port has re­vealed a marked im­prove­ment in ma­ter­nal and child health, Min­istry of Health Chief Statis­ti­cian Mahlape Ramoseme has said.

The 2014 LDHS, whose pur­pose is to pro­vide up-to-date es­ti­mates of ba­sic de­mo­graphic and health in­di­ca­tors, was the third to be con­ducted in Le­sotho in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the world­wide De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­veys Pro­gram.

Its pur­pose is to pro­vide pol­i­cy­mak­ers and pro­gramme man­agers with a first glimpse of the sur­vey re­sults with a more com­pre­hen­sive and de­tailed re­port sched­uled for later this year.

The in­for­ma­tion gath­ered is also used to mon­i­tor and eval­u­ate the im­pact of pop­u­la­tion, health, and nu­tri­tion pro­grammes im­ple­mented by dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The last time Le­sotho con­ducted such a sur­vey was in 2009 and in 2004 be­fore that.

The re­port was re­leased on Wed­nes­day and col­lected in­for­ma­tion on fer­til­ity lev­els, mar­riage, sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, nu­tri­tion, child­hood and ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity, ma­ter­nal and child health as well as aware­ness and be­hav­iour re­gard­ing HIV/AIDS and other sex­u­ally-trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions among oth­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Ramoseme, there is a note­wor­thy im­prove­ment in most of the ar­eas re­searched on such as early child­hood mor­tal­ity, ma­ter­nal care in­di­ca­tors and vac­ci­na­tions.

She said although Le­sotho failed to at­tain the Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goals (MDGs) four and five, there was some dis­cern­able progress made. The MDGs are eight in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment goals all United Na­tions mem­ber states com­mit­ted to hav­ing at­tained by 2015. MDG four and five are to re­duce child mor­tal­ity and im­prove ma­ter­nal health re­spec­tively.

The re­port noted that an­te­na­tal care (ANC) from a skilled provider is im­port- ant in mon­i­tor­ing preg­nancy and re­duc­ing mor­bid­ity and mor­tal­ity risks for both the mother and child dur­ing and af­ter preg­nancy as well as dur­ing the post­na­tal pe­riod.

“The 2014 LDHS re­sults show that 95 per­cent of women who gave birth in the five years pre­ced­ing the sur­vey re­ceived an­te­na­tal care from a skilled provider at least once for their last birth,” ob­served the re­port.

“Three-quar­ters of women had or more ANC vis­its which are 74 per­cent.

“Ur­ban women were some­what more likely than ru­ral women to have re­ceived ANC from a skilled provider putting them at 98 per­cent and 94 per­cent re­spec­tively and to have had four or more ANC vis­its with 80 per­cent and 72 per­cent re­spec­tively.”

The re­port fur­ther states that the per­cent­age of women re­ceiv­ing ANC from a skilled provider in Le­sotho had in­creased slightly from 2004 with 90 per­cent, 2009 with 92 per­cent while in 2014 it was 95 per­cent.

Ms Ramoseme said the num­ber and

four qual­ity of births at health fa­cil­i­ties had im­proved, adding that more women were de­liv­er­ing at clin­ics com­pared to those who de­liv­ered at home.

“The 2014 LHDS re­port shows that 77 per­cent of births took place in a health fa­cil­ity,” she said.

“The pro­por­tion of live births de­liv­ered by a skilled provider and de­liv­ered in a health fa­cil­ity are much greater than those re­ported in ei­ther the 2004 or 2009 LDHS.” The re­port also states that ba­sic vac­ci­na­tion cov­er­age had in­creased modestly since the 2009 LDHS es­ti­mate of 62 per­cent.

In­for­ma­tion on vac­ci­na­tion cov­er­age was ob­tained from health book­lets, cards and from moth­ers’ ver­bal re­ports. Ms Ramoseme added that while there was some im­prove­ment in the health in­di­ca­tors, the min­istry needed to work ex­tra hard since they had failed to at­tain the MDG tar­gets.

“Since we didn’t reach the MDG tar­gets, we should now look at the 2020 vi­sion and set it as our tar­get to achieve most of our set goals in the health sec­tor,” she said.

The re­port notes im­prove­ments in child­hood mor­tal­ity and ma­ter­nal care.

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