Marked improvement in health indicators - report
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.