Covid-19 Disrupts Antenatal Care Services

The closure of outpatient facilities at most public hospitals due to the Covid-19 outbreak has dealt a heavy blow on expectant mothers who are struggling to access antenatal care.

Antenatal care is meant to promote the well being of the mother and her developing baby, to monitor the pregnancy, and identify any problems so that appropriate action can be taken.

Pregnant women are expected to start attending antenatal care within 12 weeks of gestation for early detection and prevention of conditions that could negatively affect both the woman and her baby.

However, some expectant mothers in the city are struggling to access these services after Mpilo Hospital closed its antenatal clinic in June, leaving pregnant women who cannot afford private health care services with limited options.

An expectant mother who spoke to CITE on condition of anonymity said the hospital’s failure to formally communicate with its clients is an inconvenience as expectant mothers get turned away on a daily basis.

She said due to the hard economic conditions not many women can afford private health care hence the closure of the facility is a huge blow.

“It is unfair what the hospital did. I was referred here from my clinic in June and I got assisted. Nobody said anything about the facility closing. Now I come in July and find no one here. There isn’t even any notice put up. They let us queue for hours only to tell us later that the place is closed and if one has an emergency they can report to the labour ward,” she said.

“They could have at least issued a notice on public platforms or through the media but they didn’t. Other women keep getting referred here by clinics but are not told that the antenatal clinic here is closed. Imagine the transport hustle to get here plus the terrible weather only to get here and be told to go back home and return when you are due or if there is a serious need.”

Mpilo hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya told CITE that the facility had been closed as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 at the health facility.

“Outpatient facilities are closed at the hospital. This is due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. With regards to the antenatal clinic, a notice was issued to that effect,” said Prof Ngwenya.

“We discourage people from coming to the hospital unnecessarily. The Covid-19 situation is very serious and people should adhere to the prevention measures that are being put in place.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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