Since their independence, Namibians have enjoyed an improvement in the quality of their healthcare system. Nevertheless, Namibia still faces high maternal and child mortality rates due several causes; isolated remote rural communities with no direct access to health care services, high level of teenage pregnancies, malnutrition as a result of poverty and due to inadequate capacities for health service delivery.
The programme for accelerating the reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PARMaCM) was launched in 2013 and is the result of a joint-partnership with the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS). It is being funded by the EU with a total of 10 million € (around 149 million NAD) and being implemented by the MoHSS with support from WHO until 2018. It is being implemented in the II Karas, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Zambezi, Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati and Kunene Region.
The programme aims at fighting the high rates of maternal and child mortality in Namibia. The main objectives are:
- Improve access to and quality of Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) services;
- Support the implementation of Adolescent Friendly Health Services;
- Improve maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition programmes and services;
- Mobilize communities for improved maternal, newborn and child health and;
- Build capacity of health workers.
"Prevention is better than a cure" - Under this motto the PARMaCM programme contributed to the introduction of new vaccines; cold chain storage equipment; vaccination outreach; transport facilities; as well as trainings for doctors, nurses and other health service providers. These activities are key for insuring that all Namibian children can benefit from immunization programmes.
One of the main problems for a good part of Namibia's rural communities is their remote location which makes them isolated and disables them from accessing even very basic health care. The challenges they face are poverty and the long distances to hospitals or clinics, as well as inadequately equipped health facilities. Seeking any form of medical examination is therefore a comprehensive and expensive undergoing. Members of such communities only visit appropriate health care facilities when a problem has seriously escalated.
Community health workers were trained through the PARMaCM programme to be able to respond to immediate community needs, provide basic first aid, newborn and maternal care and to ensure that all newborns are vaccinated. At the same time they also educate young adults and adults in sex education. This includes answering questions such as, how to use contraceptives, what forms of sexually transmittable diseases exist, or how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.