By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
October 16, 2012 (BENTIU) – Unity state women face high maternal mortality rates according to a report published by the state department of health on Tuesday.
- South Sudanese women and her child (photo UNHCR)
Their findings show that between May and June six women died during pregnancy.
Joseph Payuan Puok, the acting director of Bentiu Health Ministry, said that the deaths were due to poor nutrition.
“During May and June we had an increase in anaemia cases in pregnant ladies [...], the increase was abrupt and it was not as high as it used to be during that period”, said Puok.
Health officials in the state say that instances of anaemia in pregnant women is due to an inappropriate diet. The blood loss associated with child birth can also cause anaemia and lead to heart failure.
Puok said the increase in deaths was due to a nationwide increase in the cost of living. This is as a result of South Sudan’s austerity measures, implemented in the wake of the halting of its main source of revenue; oil-production, in a row with Khartoum over transit fees.
The increase in living costs has prevented poorer members of the community from maintaining a healthy diet. This is all the more difficult for pregnant mothers, would require more food.
The cost of living has increased in Unity state in particular due to the closure of the border with Sudan, across which the state’s citizens accessed affordable living supplies. Puok said the price of goods in local markets has “skyrocketed”.
Health officials have been working to emphasise the importance of pregnant women maintaining a substantial diet throughout their pregnancies.
Doctors also recommended pregnant mothers take vitamins by eating fresh fruit and vegetables.
In July a health specialist at Canadian International Development Agency said “more women die in child birth, per capita, in South Sudan, than in any country in the world” and the Small Arms Survey released a report claiming one in seven women in South Sudan die during child birth.