The Ministry of Health, last week, disclosed that more than 30 percent of women in Rwanda still give birth at home or with the help of traditional birth attendants.
The ministry attributed this to ignorance and irresponsibility among some families.
Delivery under the watch of a health worker is essential in ensuring the safety of both the mother and the baby.
But this backward practice, if unchecked, could dent our efforts to reduce maternal mortality.
Birth preparedness is a key component of globally accepted safe motherhood programmes.
The role of community health workers is instrumental in this regard.
Among other functions, community health counsellors should adopt a mechanism whereby they are able to help pregnant mothers identify a skilled birth attendant, and the location of the nearest ideal care facility.
They should also educate expectant mothers to plan as they prepare for child birth. Arranging transport to health facility when labour begins is of utmost importance.
Grassroots leaders should be directly involved in this endeavour.
If women and families ensure appropriate care before labour, expectant mothers will receive treatment and avert any potential complications during childbirth, which might, otherwise, lead to maternal death.
It shouldn’t be just about attaining Goal Five of the Millennium Development, but doing away with practices that continue to endanger lives.