Health Services, Ng’ombe Residents Praise Airtel
Luckily, the labour session is successful and you have a child and everyone is happy.
It is however not rosy in many instances as child mortality has been on the increase lately.
This has been as a result of myriad problems that include lack of the equipment in most clinics a situation that has been putting children at risk.
Apparently these are some of horrors that Mrs Banda and the other mothers in Lusaka’s Ng’ombe Township used to endure.
Ng’ombe is one of the densely populated areas in Lusaka. It has an estimated population of over 20,000 people.
Most women in this area, according to Mrs Banda prefer home births to clinic births.
“Many people think that it is okay to give birth from their homes. They don’t know that it is very dangerous both to the child and to the mother,” she says.
Failure to breath is not the only horror that many infants or newly-born babies are likely to suffer.
In fact, home born babies are also at a high risk of suffering pneumonia the very day they are born if not taken to the clinic in good time.
As the saying goes, ‘children of today are the leaders of tomorrow’, Airtel one of the biggest mobile telecommunications provider in the country thought it wise to come in and help avert the problems that the many people in this sprawling township live with.
As part of their social corporate responsibility, Airtel is also supplementing government’s efforts in equipping clinics with some modern life saving equipment. This will then greatly reduce the number of referral cases to higher institutions.
In June this year, Airtel adopted Ng’ombe clinic and donated equipment worth K80million.
This is the same equipment that Mrs Banda is today able to reflect and pour her gratitude on the firm for.
Among the items donated was an electric pressure steriliser, two oxygen concentrators and another two suction machines.
Much as the pressure steriliser is equally important, it is the oxygen concentrator and the suction machines that are of great significance to the people of this township.
“These machines in the maternity ward have really helped us because many where the times when you are just from having a home delivery, you had to go to UTH for the baby to be either put to the machine that opens up its lungs or that one for oxygen, depending on the problem it has,” adds 42 year Dailess Tembo.
A suction machine is an apparatus used in wards and theatres for aspirating fluids and vomit from the mouth and airways, and from operation sites by sucking the material through a catheter into a bottle.
An oxygen concentrator on the other hand is a medical device that converts ambient air to a higher concentration level of oxygen, and is commonly used to provide oxygen therapy to patients who have difficulty in breathing.
This device can also be used on premature babies whose skin colour is not the normal pinkish.
It functions by removing nitrogen in the ambient air and delivering highly-concentrated oxygen to the patient through tubes or face masks. A common oxygen concentrator is capable of continuous oxygen output measured in litres per minute.
Ng’ombe Labour and Delivery ward sister in charge, Mudenda Munkonze explains the significance of the machines to the clinic.
“Home births are very common here. We receive a minimum of two home deliveries each day. But it’s not to mean that these machines are only helpful to those that give birth from their homes, actually those that have hospital births benefit even more because their babies will have their lungs opened up by the suction machine other than slapping it on the back. But, mostly if a home born baby is not brought to the hospital within 24 hours of being born, it risks dying,” she says.
But before these equipments were donated, what were the nurses here using?
The clinic which only has a total of nine trained midwives was using old oxygen concentrators that were cumbersome to use, according to Mrs Munkonze.
“Most of the midwives here are old and using the manual suction machine was really a challenge because it was just too cumbersome. As for the oxygen concentrator, we had a manual one as well that each time it ran out of gas, we would have to take to the Ministry of Health for refilling before being brought back here. If you look at that, it was more or less endangering the people also,” she says.
Ignatius Bulongo who is the clinic officer at the clinic thanks Airtel for the initiative, saying the people of Ng’ombe as well as Kaunda Square which does not have a labour ward have benefitted greatly.
To this effect, Mr Bulongo further adds that from the time the machines where donated in June, a total number of 513 babies have used the suction machines and another 20 babies have benefitted from the oxygen concentrators.
“We therefore believe and hope that these equipments will enhance Ng’ombe Health centre’s competence in averting maternal child deaths. Our mothers need to feel a sense of protection and safety,” he says.
The electric steriliser is also being used to sterilisation of medical instruments and for predisposal treatment of medical waste.
“Steam sterilizers are used to ensure sterility of medical instruments like scalpel blades, hypodermic needles and other lab utensils. Medical waste must be sterilised before it can enter municipal waste systems, both sewage and trash,” says Stanely Kangote, a laboratory technician at the clinic.
On the other hand, Airtel corporate communications and public relations officer, Lisa Mulozi says the gesture was part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.
“Airtel holds life highly. This is just an indication that we are committed to saving lives in communities. she says.
“WE are really grateful to Airtel because without them, lives where going to be lost here in Ng’ombe Township,” says 35 year- old Elebet Banda.
Perhaps the question on everybody’s lips is; why is she thanking Airtel?
Imagine a scenario where you are a pregnant woman and you suddenly go into labour even before your due date. But due to distance, you can’t even make it to the nearest clinic.
Health Services, Ng’ombe Residents Praise Airtel
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