Reproductive Health

Zambia Women Walk Long Way for Maternal Shelters

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Zambia's effort to lower maternal mortality includes maternity shelters outside hospitals where rural women can wait for delivery. But as women in one shelter attest, the walks are long and the waiting is hard. Many still skip regular checkups.

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The stories in this article highlight the difficulties women living in distant rural areas experience in their effort to access skilled attendance especially for safe delivery. The women wisely chose to come closer to a health facility before labour began, despite the challenges of getting adequate food while at the maternity shelter. In terms of distance to health facility Zambia isn’t alone in having nearly half of families live outside an eight-mile radius of a health facility. Also in Kenya nearly a half (47.7%) of the people have to travel 5km or further to reach the nearest health facility, with marked regional variations. Health care utilization is known to be greatly negatively impacted by distance to health care facilities and access to means of transportation. African governments need to address the prevailing lack of equity in health planning and distribution of resources.