The health ministry has received US$270 000 (about N$4 million) from the Japanese government to improve and increase the uptake of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on essential services.
This was done through the World Health Organisation (WHO) where a donation of 16 portable ultrasound machines and their accessories worth N$801 843 was presented to the ministry.
The rest of the money will be allocated to other services also in the field of child and maternal health.
"We prioritised procuring ultrasound machines to allow women to have an early ultrasound for improved detection of any foetal abnormalities and multiple pregnancies for improved pregnancy outcome," stated WHO representative Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses.
He said having ultrasound machines available at the antenatal clinic would contribute to the positive experience during pregnancy as women will not travel far to hospitals for an ultrasound scan.
"This will further contribute to the decongestion of hospitals, especially in the Covid-19 pandemic," said Sagoe-Moses.
In their effort to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.1 target of reducing maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100 000 live births, WHO is working closely with the health ministry towards improving access to affordable and high-quality care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth by all women and babies.
Ambassador of Japan, Hideaki Harada said the pandemic has resulted in the reallocation of resources and staff to implement the Covid-19 response that is worsening the demand for skilled care maternal health services.
He added this will pose grave consequences for the mother and baby, hence, it is crucial to improve the quality of maternal and child health services.
Harada stated the provision of 16 ultrasound scanners with accessories to health facilities in Namibia is an important part of the tripartite cooperation project, which has been implemented since March this year with Japanese funding.
"Japan is implementing another cooperation project for the provision of medical equipment to 17 Namibian hospitals to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and to help improve the Namibian health system. The donated equipment has arrived in Namibia recently," informed Harada.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said having an ultrasound machine in remote health facilities could afford early and more accurate diagnosis, through in-depth assessment(s) of symptoms presented and ultimately improved effective treatment and health outcomes.
"Medical devices like these allow healthcare workers to reduce maternal mortality and mobility rates, minimise treatment delays and substantially strengthen maternally and child care. Patients requiring ultrasound scans have been subjected to delays as a result of a severe shortage of such machines," said Shangula.
He informed ultrasound examinations present a less intrusive, almost harmless way of assessing the health condition of the unborn baby from the very early stages in pregnancy.
"It not only protects the foetus for being exposed to other more dangerous forms of intervention, but also aids in the diagnosis of the expectant mother, whilst aiding in providing the latter with some form of peace of mind," he said.