Mpumalanga has the country's fourth highest maternal mortality rate (File photo)

Mpumalanga has the country’s fourth highest maternal mortality rate (File photo)

Built in partnership with mining company Anglo American Coal South Africa, the new community centre has been named after African National Congress stalwart Lilian Mambakazi who was born in Perdekop – a small town about 50 kms outside Standerton.

According to Mpumalanga MEC for Health Gillion Pudumo Mashego, Mambakazi was the first woman to serve on Standerton’s local council.

“In honour of Ms Mambakazi, I pray that this facility delivers healthy babies and no women should die in the facility while giving birth,” said Gert Sibande Health District Director Vukani Khoza at the centre’s recent official opening.

Mpumalanga has the nation’s fourth worst maternal mortality rate, according to the latest District Health Barometer. About 150 out of every live births will result in a women dying in the province. Nationally, Gert Sibande District has the sixth highest rate of maternal deaths of the country’s 52 health districts.

According to Mashego, late access to antenatal care and HIV were major drivers of women’s deaths.

“The reason we are losing a lot of kids or newborns is that pregnant women do not start (antenatal) early and do not test for HIV when they are pregnant,” he told OurHealth.

He added that he will be monitoring the uptake of HIV counselling and testing at the new health centre. He also encouraged men to undergo voluntary medical male circumcision (MMC) to reduce their risk of contracting HIV. In large-scale clinical trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, MMC was found to reduce a man’s risk of contracting HIV trough vaginal sex by about 60 percent.