Ntchisi,: Nation Publications Limited (NPL) Mothers Fun Run is this year going to Ntchisi district in the central region. Malawi News Agency (MANA) reporter, Pauline Kaude had an interview with the senior chief Nthondo from the district to find out how he and other traditional leaders in the district have received the news.
Q: How have you welcomed the news about this year’s Mothers Fun Run coming to your district?
A: I Iearnt about it in February, this year and I was so excited. There are a lot of districts in Malawi which are yet to benefit from the initiative, therefore to have the Mothers Fun Run in our district this year is something I don’t take for granted. On behalf of my fellow traditional leaders in the district, I would like to commend NPL for coming up with the initiative.
Q: Why are you so excited with the development?
A: For your own information, the situation in all the health facilities in the district is pathetic. Most of the health facilities do not have enough equipment in the maternity wings. The environment in which our women are delivering babies is not conducive at all. Through this initiative, things will definitely improve for the better.
Q: What is the situation like in your own area in as far as safe motherhood is concerned?
A: My area has three health facilities namely; Nthondo and Mndinda Health Centres and Sambakunsi Health Post, which is currently not offering maternity services due to lack of personnel. The situation in the two health centres is really bad, there is not enough equipment in the maternity wings. As if that is not enough, there is shortage of personnel in all these health facilities.
Q: How about the district hospital, is the situation any better?
A: Not at all. Even at the District Hospital, the status of the maternity wing leaves a lot to be desired. There are only a few beds with very few mattresses and most of them do not have beddings. Our women and newly born babies have no proper place to sleep. They have to endure a lot during their stay there. For their guardians, it is even worse; the guardian shelter is in a dilapidated state. The few toilets that are there are not even fit to be called as such.
Q: As a traditional leader, what role do you play in the promotion of safe motherhood in your area?
A: I always encourage my subjects to take a leading role in ensuring that no woman dies during child birth in my area. We have set up by-laws in the area which are really helping a lot in the promotion of safe motherhood. It is compulsory for every pregnant woman to go to a health facility during the eighth month of her pregnancy and be there until she delivers her baby. No woman is supposed to give birth at home. If they don’t comply, they are forced to pay a fine in form of a goat. Her village head is also told to pay a fine of a goat. However, sometimes I feel bad enforcing these by-laws considering the sorry state of maternity wings in our health facilities.
Q: Are you going to participate in the Mothers Fun Run yourself?
A: Of course yes, and actively for that matter! At the district level, we have already formed a local organizing committee which will help in mobilizing funds and other resources to help towards the initiative. I am a member of the committee and we have already started conducting meetings in preparation for the event. As a committee, we have lined up a number of fundraising activities aimed at ensuring that we get more financial and material resources. As committee members ourselves, we have already set the ball rolling by making cash contributions towards the initiative. Chiefs (traditional authorities) in the district have been sensitized about the initiative and they have welcomed it. Soon, we will be reaching out to village headmen so they can relay the message to their subjects to support the Mothers Fun Run in whatever form.
Q: Apart from traditional leaders, who else are you targeting?
A: Non Governmental Organizations, companies, business persons and all people of good will in the district and beyond will be approached for assistance. We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that we make this year’s Mothers Fun Run a success.
Q: What message do you have for the people of Ntchisi in as far as this year’s Mothers Fun Run is concerned?
A: This initiative is for our own good, it will help improve safe motherhood in our district. Let’s own it and provide all the necessary support towards it. Together we can help our women by improving the status of our maternity wings and reduce the number of women dying during child birth. Remember no woman should die during childbirth!!
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA