ERITREA: GOVT EMBARKS ON COMBATING MATERNAL AND INFANT MORTALITY, ALLEVIATE POVERTY
"Offers Free Health Services In Hopes To Achieve A Reduction In Matenal And Infant Mortality"
The Eritrean government has committed to improving the health and wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents as well as end extreme poverty and promote development in the country.
This has been praised as key indicators of national development and demonstrates the country’s commitment to promoting the right to health.
Considering that maternal and child health are important public health issues as they provide the opportunity to end preventable deaths among women, children and adolescents and greatly improve their health and well-being.
It has been reported that most aternal complications and poor prenatal outcomes result from the non-utilization of antenatal and delivery care services and poor socio-economic conditions of the patients.
The Eritrean public health sector has therefore reenforced maternal and child health services to promote optimal health and development for children from birth until they reach school age through focus on the child, mother and family.
Experts advise that to be able to give birth to healthy children, it is essential for all pregnant women to have access to high quality obstetric care throughout their pregnancies.
To that effect, the Eritrean government emphasizes on three key components, which includes skilled birth attendants, an enabling environment and a functioning referral system.
Eritrea has been able to cut down mortality rates of mothers and children through its extensive public health work. Child mortality rate declined from 90.1 deaths per 1000 live births in 1999 to 41.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018. Similarly, neonatal mortality rate was 27.2 deaths per 1000 live births in 1999 and gradually fell, reaching 18.4 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018.
Neonatal mortality rates account for half of the infant mortality rate and 27% of under 5 mortality. Statisrics show that child mortality is skewed towards rural locations and poorer household.
Eritrea’s maternal mortality ratio declined from 498 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016 to 480 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017, a reduction of 3.61%. This shows that maternal mortality is still high in Eritrea and is said to be largely driven by complications associated during pregnancy, intrapartum and postpartum.
Attendance by skilled birth attendants is said to be low, at 58%, and poor rural and remote populations face difficulties in accessing more specialized health service.
To curb this health challenge, the government of Eritrea has been working to provide health services by building health centers throughout the country, including remote locations.
The health centers also provide refuge for pregnant women that need special care until they are transferred to referral hospitals for delivery.
Thus, many women who live in remote areas depend on traditional birth attendants, often associated with increased maternal and infant mortalities, due to transport problems. To mitigate this problem the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been empowering traditional birth attendants through training.
The Ministry of health has been making efforts to immunize children below 5 years old with high coverage both in rural and urban areas by promoting delivery at hospitals to identify risk factors earlier and prevent complications related to delivery.
Health services are given in Eritrea free of charge and are available throughout the country. Therefore, on top of what has been achieved so far, the government expect further reduction in maternal and infant mortality in the near future.