Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends Sunday Times for three news feature articles on the state of maternal health in South Africa. The articles published on 19 March 2017 (pg.6) have been selected for a GLAD for highlighting the rates of mortality in women during childbirth and how this phenomenon negatively affects the upbringing of children in South Africa.
The first article titled “Most dangerous provinces for moms with newborns” by Matthew Savides and Taschica Pillay breaks down the rates of maternal deaths in each province with North West and Limpopo in the lead. The article highlights challenges such as staff shortages, lack of resources and long distances which community members have to travel to access health care. The journalists included statistics from the District Health Barometer which “show that 1074 women died in the 2015-16 year during or shortly after childbirth”. A story of a child whose mother bled to death shortly after giving birth to her is also included in the article to illustrate how such tragedies affect surviving children who are forced to grow up without their mothers.
“Maternal deaths: contraception is key” by Matthew Savides looks at how government is planning to deal with the high numbers of maternal deaths in South Africa by “strengthening access to contraceptives and family planning to ensure that all births are planned and wanted, as well as to decrease teen pregnancies”. According to the article, the government’s goal is to reduce deaths to “70 deaths of mothers per 100 000 babies born” by 2018.
The third article, “Star Nurse who didn’t miss a beat” by Taschica Pillay, highlights the importance of well-trained and experienced nurses in addressing maternal health by profiling a nurse who was able to discover an abnormality in a foetus’s heartbeat during an antenatal checkup.
MMA congratulates Sunday Times for going beyond the District Health Barometer report by further exploring the challenges faced by the maternal health sector and instances where mortalities could be avoided to promote maternal health and the well-being of children. It is clear from reading the articles that this can be achieved when relevant stakeholders like governments and health care providers work together.
We encourage the journalists and the publication to continue highlighting such issues.
By Musa Rikhotso and Lister Namumba-Rikhotso.
 A GLAD is given when journalists report responsibly and promote the best interests of children