At least K242 million worth of equipment has been mobilised for Nkhata Bay District Hospital and its satellite health facilities in the safe motherhood initiative that culminated in a Mother’s Fun Run (MFR) in the district yesterday.
By six o’clock Saturday morning, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and its partners were already at Nkhata Bay Jetty and at Chintheche Turn off, geared up for the 10 and five-kilometre fun run to the district hospital.
The run was part of the MFR initiative under the news publishing powerhouse, aimed at raising awareness on safe motherhood as well as mobilising resources to equip public health facilities with the right equipment for safe motherhood interventions.
Among other dignitaries who made the fun run were European Union Ambassador Rune Skinnebach and his deputy Else Boonstra; World Vision International (WVI) Malawi board member Ambassador Annie Kumwenda; Press Trust board chairperson Professor Moses Maliro and his chief executive officer (Gibson Ngalamila; NPL board chairperson Masankho Banda and his CEO Mbumba Banda and Traditional Authority Mkumbira.
In an interview, the EU deputy ambassador who pledged to partner with the MFR again next year, wished for the day when there would be enough resources in the health facilities to save the lives of mothers and children in child birth.
“This is a private initiative that is implemented by NPL, which is hugely appreciated. But I just hope that in a couple of years we can move towards a situation whereby there will be enough resources in Malawi, to equip all the hospitals and health centres so that there will not be so much of a need for private initiatives such as this one. So, that is what we strive towards,” she said.
Explaining what motivated the delegation to participate in the MFR initiative, having also taken part in the sleepover challenge at Chintheche Rural Hospital, Boonstra said:
“We as EU, and I as an individual wish to contribute to safe motherhood outcomes. I was quite impressed when I read and I heard about how basic the needs are in Nkhata Bay district, Chintheche Rural Hospital, and also the many health centres around; the number of people that they serve, and the fact that often the most basic of equipment such as good monitors, blood pressure machines, and other things that are relatively simple but absolutely crucial in monitoring pregnant women and assisting in safe births, are often simply not there.”
She added that in 2024 as the MFR goes to Chikwawa, the EU Delegation to Malawi and as individuals will look at what they can do and how they can contribute.
For her part, Banda was glad with the growing number of organisations joining the MFR platform as well as individuals taking up the sleepover challenges in health facilities where they appreciate first-hand the challenges that women and health workers face in bringing lives into the world.
“It is heartwarming to note the number of individuals willing to come and sleep over to shine the spotlight on the problems in safe motherhood efforts to support the medical personnel, the patients and their guardians while raising money. We have had an overwhelming response this year with people on the sleepover challenges raising K15 million. When we look at health centres that don’t have thermometers or blood pressure machines—simple things like those, such money will go a long way in changing the situation,” she said.
She added, “as a result of people coming onto this platform this year, we have exceeded the target that we set for ourselves. We had wanted to raise K200 million, but I’m pleased to report that we have raised K242 million this year.”
Ambassador Kumwenda who was the guest of honour appreciated NPL’s efforts in ensuring the safety of mothers and babies in child birth
She was also hopeful that the equipment that has been donated will not leave Nkhata Bay district which has registered success in reducing maternal mortality rates from 203 per 100 000 live births in 2018 to 43 per 100 000; and reducing neonatal mortality from 11 deaths in every 1 000 live births to seven in every 1 000 from 2018 to now.
“We hope that through this positive trend, we will ensure healthier lives for countless mothers and babies,” she said.
On the night before the MFR event, five babies including a set of twins were born at Nkhata Bay District Hospital.
Nkhata Bay District Health Office has 27 health facilities.
The director of health and social services Topsy Mndolo also said they serve over 15 000 pregnant women on an annual basis, and that each year they expect about 2 000 obstetric emergencies.