The Ngami District Health Management Team (DHMT) has raised a concern about high infant mortality rate in the district, revealing that since the beginning of the year, 52 deaths having been recorded.
In 2021 the district recorded a total of 54 deaths, out of which 50 were neonates (within one month of birth) while from the beginning of this year up to date a total of 52 deaths have already been recorded out of which 37 were also neonates.
Ngami DHMT coordinator Dr Sandra Maripe has explained that prematurity accounts to 54% of the deaths for babies who are 28 days of age followed by severe respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) by 32% of which mortalities happen around an early neonatal age (before 7 days of life).
She indicated that other causes of infant mortality include diarrhoea, septicaemia and pneumonia. Maripe revealed that ‘septicemia or sepsis’ which is the clinical name for blood poisoning by bacteria is the leading cause of infant mortality rate in the region followed by pneumonia.
“As the DHMT, we consider the current annual infant mortality statistics in the district to be high and we are working round the clock to address the situation,” Maripe told this publication.
She noted that most of the communities in Ngamiland are remote and still practice interventions in line with their various cultures such as home deliveries, unsafe male circumcisions and the use of traditional remedies.
She indicated that as a way of raising awareness about infant mortality rate, they reach out to the communities and offer public education. Maripe said that they promote breastfeeding and provide women with access to pre-natal care which includes educating the mothers on their health before, during and after pregnancy.
She further said the health ministry has systematic ‘accelerated child survival and development programme’, a robust immunisation programme and periodic prevention campaigns of which Ngami DHMT also follows as per the set standards.
“Child mortality is a core indicator of child health and wellbeing therefore it is important to reinforce and accelerate child survival interventions, especially government initiative such as, Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) trainings, Malaria Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), Accelerated Child Survival and development Programme, Improved Access and availability of nutrition and micronutrients and Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Care trainings,’ Maripe noted.
She revealed that the current infant mortality rate for Botswana stands at 27.425 deaths per 1000 live births despite a 2.43% decline from 2021.