#Covid19SA creates two-month healthcare gap for moms-to-be

Written by Nelisiwe Msomi

Maternal healthcare has been put on the backburner, as the fear of contracting Covid-19 has left pregnant women without accessing antenatal clinic visits, says recent report.

The National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey conducted telephone surveys that focused primarily on access to vaccinations, antiretroviral therapy and antenatal care by pregnant women and women with infants in the public sector.

The survey spoke to 7 074 adults, and of the sample gathered, about 16% of pregnant women and mothers of infants in the public sector have not been to the clinic for two months as a result of Covid-19.

Covid-19 fear keeps patients away

The survey also found that 11% of mothers who use public healthcare services and are on antiretroviral therapy have run out of their treatment. The fear of contracting Covid-19 was a major driving factor for most people not seeking or accessing their medication.

The pregnant women and mothers of infants reported to had last visited a clinic or hospital in April when they were questioned. It also found that 1-in-4 women whose babies needed key vaccinations had not been to the clinic for the over two months.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that sexual reproductive services also faced a decline. About 23% of the people surveyed said that they could not access medication, contraceptives or condoms over 4 weeks.

Around 4% of chronic patients did not seek the care that they needed, while around 22% of people who needed acute care, like surgery, did not seek care in fear of catching Covid-19.

Closing the gaps

In order to fill the delayed access to healthcare services that were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, experts who complied recommend that the state contracts private sector GPs to help support the added demands in primary care.

The report also proposes that more community healthcare workers need to deploy to link people to healthcare services. Government should also increase the capacity of programmes such as the centralised chronic medicines dispensing and distribution to cover a wider range of medications and not limit it to a few chronic ailments.

The survey suggest that government look at setting up a helpline for those who are at risk of being without treatment and also investigate the cost of using fear to motivate social behavioural changes in its Covid-19 prevention messaging.– Health-e News.

About the author

Nelisiwe Msomi