Poor health care for pregnant women in Eastern Cape

Over 80% of households in Alfred Nzo (the district that includes Mthatha, Qumbu and Flagstaff) live on less than R800 a month while this figure is 78% in OR Tambo.


The province has the highest perinatal mortality rate (number of babies that die at birth or within seven days) in the county. An average of 42.3 babies died per 1000 births ‘€“ far higher than the national average of 33.8.


In OR Tambo district, almost 56.9 babies died per 1000 births, indicating both the poor health status of their mothers and, in all likelihood, poor monitoring of their pregnancies and deliveries by the local health authorities.


‘€œThe perinatal mortality rate is the most sensitive indicator of obstetric care,’€ according to the Barometer.


The province’€™s prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme appears to be in trouble, with a 10% drop in pregnant HIV positive women getting the antiretroviral drug, nevirapine. However, Barometer researchers say this may also be due to poor data on this.


Around two-thirds of Eastern Cape residents have access to piped water in the province, far less than the national average of 85%. In Alfred Nzo, though, little more than four out of 10 households have access to piped water.


The one positive trend is the improved TB cure rate, particularly in the Amatole and Nelson Mandela Metro (Port Elizabeth) districts, which were declared ‘€œTB crisis districts’€ in 2005. OR Tambo and Chris Hani districts have also improved their TB indicators.


Nelson Mandela has improved a number of its indicators, particularly access to piped water (98% coverage). This in turn has ensured that the incidence of diarrhoea amongst children under the age of five is one of the lowest in the country.


The metro has also significantly increased the number of pregnant women being tested for HIV from slightly over half in 2005/6 to three-quarters a year later.


Other Provinces:


Western Cape



Northern Cape

North West Province

Free State



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