In the small southern African country of Lesotho, high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity threaten the country’s young mothers. Lesotho is one of the few countries in the world where the number of women dying of maternal causes has increased over the last decade. Many of these women, especially in the mountains of rural Lesotho where Partners In Health works, die of causes that could be prevented if they had access to skilled delivery assistance and emergency obstetric care.
Lesotho is one of the few countries in the world where the number of women dying of maternal causes has increased over the last decade , with 1,155 maternal deaths per 100,000 pregnancies. 60% of maternal deaths are the result of surgical emergencies such as hemorrhage, infection, or obstructed labor. Most women live several hours from a health center, resulting in low numbers of women delivering at health facilities with assistance from medical professionals who can manage complications.
PIH Lesotho has launched a Maternal Mortality Reduction Project to train specialized Community Health Workers to educate and accompany pregnant women to health centers and ensure that they receive prenatal, delivery and postnatal care from skilled health professionals. To ensure access to emergency care, PIHL has constructed Mothers’ Waiting Houses at each of seven mountain clinics, where pregnant women can stay for at least 2 weeks prior to delivery and remain for 48 hours after delivery.
The Maternal Mortality Reduction Project and Mothers’ Waiting Houses will significantly increase the number of pregnant women coming to PIHL-supported health centers. In addition, PIHL is working with Mamohau Hospital to install a fully functioning operating room, and new maternity and neonatal wards, to provide emergency obstetric and neonatal care. The long term impacts of this program will include few maternal deaths, and improved health outcomes for mothers and babies.